Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Say It Again

Over at Red State and on the other Rightist blogs, they're banging the drum and saying Bush has the right to do what he's doing, it's fine because it's the War on Terra and look at those silly Leftist Moonbats crying Impeach Impeach when all Bush is TRYING to do is DEFEND our country --

And mr. delagar reminds me that Lincoln also suspend habeas corpus and that we tortured prisoners plenty during the Philippine war, and DED Space notes that Nixon also spied on citizens (http://www.dedspace.blogspot.com/), so it's not like this is all new --

I know all this is true.

What Bush is doing is still a criminal act. What he is doing still violates his oath. What his administration is doing still is a disgrace to our nation. What he and his people and his party are doing is still destroying what America ought to be.

Here is Katherine at Obsidian Wings:

I was shocked by the brazen defense of the wiretapping thing like anyone else, but when I thought about it for a moment...it's not like this should be news to us.

Look. We have a President here who is making a claim of unlimited power, for the duration of a war that may never end. Oh, he says it's limited by the country's laws, but they've got a crack legal team that reliably interprets the laws to say that the President gets to do whatever he wants. It amounts to the same thing.

I am not exaggerating. I am really and truly not.

September 11 started the war. When will it end? Maybe never. Where is the battlefield? The entire world, including the United States. Who is an enemy combatant? Anyone the President says is an enemy combatant, including a U.S. citizen--no need for a charge, no need for a trial, no need for access to a lawyer. What if they're found not to be an enemy combatant? We can keep them in prison anyway, and we don't have to tell their families they're alive or their lawyers that they were cleared. What can you do to an enemy combatant? Anything you want. Detain him forever, for the rest of his life, because this is a war like any other and we have always been able to detain POWs for the duration of the war. But you don't need to follow the Geneva Conventions, because this is a war like no other in our history. And oh yes--if the President decides that we need to torture a prisoner for the war effort, it's unconstitutional for Congress to stop him. They took that position in an official memo, and they have not backed down from it. They have said it was "unnecessary" but they have never backed down from it.

They are not only entitled to do these things to people; they are entitled to do them in secret. When Congress asks for information about them, they can just ignore it. And they are entitled to actively deceive the public about all this.
That's the power they claim. At what point are we going to take that claim seriously?

At some level, I think we read these things and think: well, they can't really mean that. But by now we know that they mean it enough to have shattered a number of lives. Right now there are a limited number of people who have gotten to experience the absolute powerlessness that is the flip side of the president's assertion of absolute power. I would guess there are relatively few of them, compared to some other wars in our history. But they certainly exist; I can rattle a litany of the worst cases off the top of my head by now. Maher Arar, A'del Abdu al-Hakim, Saddiq Ahmad Turkestani, Sean Baker, Muhammad Saad Iqbal, Sami al-Laithi, Dilawar and Habibullah, Abed Hamed Mowhoush, Manadel al-Jamadi, Benyam Mohamed, the Salt Pit case....This is nowhere, nowhere close to exhaustive. Again, this is only a partial list of the cases that I could name off the top of my head. Read those links, and think of the stories I could tell after an extra half hour on Google, let alone a thorough look through the relevant news stories and government documents. And for every case we know about there are probably many more that have never been publicly reported.

Many of those men have been accused of horrible crimes. Some of them are probably guilty. But we know for a fact that some of them are not, so innocence is not any kind of protection. U.S. citizenship works a hell of a lot better, but it's not foolproof. You could ask Sean Baker about that; you could also ask James Yee, Jose Padilla, Yasser Hamdi, Omar Abu Ali.


This is wrong. It is wrong, wrong, wrong.

These are criminal acts and they should be stopped.

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