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History Repeats Itself
Published on October 19, 2006 By Sean Conners aka SConn1 In War on Terror
This week, President Bush signed the War Commissions Act. The GOP, in an attempt to reframe the election debates once again, heralded the signing as another nail in the coffin to democrats more so than any terrorist at home or abroad. Funny, I thought that the war was against terrorists, not democrats.

Dennis Hastert, amongst others, desperate to hold onto power, bragged that this bill would stop those pesky democrats from "coddling and pampering" terrorists. yeah, that's what's been happening.

Hastert, along with the rest of his desperate party, has seemed to have forgotten that the war is against terrorists, not democrats. But this bill is more against Americans than anything else. Democrats aren't interested in pampering terrorists any more than the republicans are interested in realizing the dramatic implications of what they have done in the spirit of holding absolute power.

A specific part of this act lists the definition of an "enemy combatant" as " a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a combatant status review tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the president or the secretary of defense.”

What does this mean? According to Constitutional Law proffessor Johnathan Turley, it means that you, I or any other American can be called a terrorist or enemy comatant at the president's whims. In other words, if he doesn't like you.

Turley: ... it says that if you even give material support to an organization that the president deems connected to one of these groups, you too can be an enemy combatant.

And the fact that he appoints this tribunal is meaningless. You know, standing behind him at the signing ceremony was his attorney general, who signed a memo that said that you could torture people, that you could do harm to them to the point of organ failure or death.

So if he appoints someone like that to be attorney general, you can imagine who he‘s going be putting on this board.
...The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president. In fact, Madison said that he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could not do harm, because we didn‘t rely on their good motivations.

Now we must. And people have no idea how significant this is. What, really, a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.

It couldn‘t be more significant. And the strange thing is, we‘ve become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. I mean, the Congress just gave the president despotic powers, and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to, you know, “Dancing with the Stars.” I mean, it‘s otherworldly.


Some have argued that they could care less about "terrorist rights" to the point where they skew anyone who defends the basic principles of Habeas Corpus as someone who wats to "give MORE rights to terrorists." then go on to make all kinds of false, inflamatory accusations. None of which are true.

President Adams signed a declaration similair to this. The end result was a rounding up of journalists. President Grant issued his own suspension of Habeas to rid us of the KKK. That still hasn't happened, but again innocent people wre jailed and given no opportunity to defend their innocence until wiser heads prevailed and like Adams's power grab, was reversed.

It happened again when President Wilson insisted that the espionage Act was necessary. the end result was that public speakers we re jailed unjustly and with no opportunity to defend their innocence.

FDR also exceeded the constitution with executive order #9066. that act imprisoned any Japanese -American during world war II in concentration camp like settings for the crime of their ancestors coming to America. As General DeWitt said at the time to Congress, "“It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen—he is still a Japanese.” This was not only the biggest blunder on FDR's record, it was so bad that ronald reagan had to formally apologize to the Japanese people and goverment for the lives we had ruined.

In all these cases, all that ever happened were Americans being unjustly imprisoned for nothing more than speaking or writing about their country or for just being here. No crimes were committed, no enemies were stopped. The only people who were terrorized were the innocent americans being jailed.

Senator Patrick lehey wisely said this is "a sad day when the rubber-stamp Congress undercuts our freedoms,” and Senator Feingold added that “We will look back on this day as a stain on our nation‘s history.”

Indeed we will.

But in the past, either the Congress or the Courts have stepped in to save our precious rights. So, they will again, right? let's ask Mr Turley...

"Well, you know what? I think people are fooling themselves if they believe that the courts will once again stop this president from taking over—taking almost absolute power. It basically comes down to a single vote on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy. And he indicated that if Congress gave the president these types of powers, that he might go along.

And so we may have, in this country, some type of ueber-president, some absolute ruler, and it‘ll be up to him who gets put away as an enemy combatant, held without trial.

It‘s something that no one thought—certainly I didn‘t think—was possible in the United States. And I am not too sure how we got to this point. But people clearly don‘t realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today changed us. And I‘m not too sure we‘re going to change back anytime soon".


But we don't torture, right?

"That‘s actually when I turned off my TV set, because I couldn‘t believe it. You know, the United States has engaged in torture. And the whole world community has denounced the views of this administration, its early views that the president could order torture, could cause injury up to organ failure or death.

The administration has already established that it has engaged in things like waterboarding, which is not just torture. We prosecuted people after World War II for waterboarding prisoners. We treated it as a war crime. And my God, what a change of fate, where we are now embracing the very thing that we once prosecuted people for.

Who are we now? I know who we were then. But when the president said that we don‘t torture, that was, frankly, when I had to turn off my TV set."


You weren't the only one, i'm sure.

Some Americans think that to beat the terrorists that we have to become more like them. We've made that mistake before, like when some thought that to beat the Soviet Union, we had to be more like them. Or the japanese. Or the Germans. Or the Socialists. Or the Anarchists. Or the Immigrants. Or the British. Or the Aliens. etc, etc,,,,

In every case, despite some folks good intentions, they were always wrong. America wins when Americans stand up to tyranny and at the same time defends our freedoms and rights with equal, if not a greater vigor.

Is this hyperbole? Keith Olbermann, in his special comments yesterday, nailed it...

"We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has insisted again that “the United States does not torture. It’s against our laws and it’s against our values” and who has said it with a straight face while the pictures from Abu Ghraib Prison and the stories of Waterboarding figuratively fade in and out, around him.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who may now, if he so decides, declare not merely any non-American citizens “unlawful enemy combatants” and ship them somewhere—anywhere -- but may now, if he so decides, declare you an “unlawful enemy combatant” and ship you somewhere - anywhere.

And if you think this hyperbole or hysteria, ask the newspaper editors when John Adams was president or the pacifists when Woodrow Wilson was president or the Japanese at Manzanar when Franklin Roosevelt was president.

And if you somehow think habeas corpus has not been suspended for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this: If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien or an undocumented immigrant or an “unlawful enemy combatant”—exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this attorney general is going to help you?"


I don't think so either Keith.















"

Comments (Page 1)
on Oct 19, 2006

ONLY COMPLETE MORONS GIVE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO ENEMIES IN WAR!!

I thank you and all the other complete  morons for identifying yourselves, it's better than a sign!

Thanks also for spitting on Prs. Lincoln who did the same thing.

on Oct 19, 2006

What would happen if we had to start rationing like during WWII?  Whiners like you would be peeing your pants because your comforts and conveniences would be limited to you.

 

on Oct 19, 2006
you are certainly entitled to you r opinion.
on Oct 19, 2006
i was hoping to have enuff time yesterday to write about this. sadly i didn't and i'm running really late even as i type.

my title woulda been a lil more forceful than yours. something such as "how we lost the war on terror".

habeus corpus was first implemented to protect us all from absolute monarchs and perhaps it's time to seriously consider whether bush and friends aren't much more likely heirs to the tory royalists or those french reactionaries still working to bring back the bourbons rather than neo-anythings--much less american conservatives.

i gotta split so i'll leave ya with ben franklin's opinion of those responsible for this abomination as well as those who take their side:

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security ...
on Oct 19, 2006
Of course Ted, there was a Rebellion so to speak going on and the fact that Washington was threatened by a well-organized and efficient army across the Potomac that had made a few invasions into the Union states, both of which were conditions for the removal of that right, and it was only removed for the duration of that War, a war which had clear aims and a definitive ending point.
on Oct 19, 2006
was hoping to have enuff time yesterday to write about this. sadly i didn't and i'm running really late even as i type.


hey man,,,when ya get a shot,,,as long as it's goin on, please do write on the subject. i'd like to hear your thoughts. it's important and shouldn't go away

my title woulda been a lil more forceful than yours. something such as "how we lost the war on terror



damn, that is forceful. i'm not goin there just yet. i still have faith in america. call me naive, but most of the time, we do the right things, in the long run. but when change is brought about, it's rarely from the insiders. so i think everyone should speak out about this. regardless of view. i wanna hear your view as well as ted's view. now, ted called me a moron in his opening line on the subject, which was uncalled for. but i'm hoping him, like everyone else, will wanna have aserious debate on the subject.

i think one of the reasons that the GOP numbers in the polls are sliding so hard is the bully mentality of the right. along with the smearing and attacking the messenger tactics. if thre is one positive trend in politics it's that the attack ads seem to have lost much of their effectiveness. unless you are a evangelical christian or a neoconservative, you are probably being tired of being called names, instead of seriously discussing the issue. and with david kuo's book, the christians aren't so sure they aren't part of the "looneys" in the administrations eyes.

it's actually kind of sad that the far right doesn't realize that outside of the right wing of the GOP, no one agrees with them on iraq. not in this country, not in any other. and after years and years of name calling, they have now, at least on this issue, and a few others, offended just about everybody. and sadly, they continue to do it.

one of the main points was the "asleep at the wheel" mentality of the american idol obsessed nation. i'm hopin people answer the wake up call.




on Oct 19, 2006

We should NOT be granting enemies that are not American born, the same rights that are ours.

WE keep bending over backwards to be fair to monsters that would and will destroy us. It must stop.

It's not just A constitution, it's the American constitution, made for and implemented By Americans for America.

on Oct 19, 2006
We should NOT be granting enemies that are not American born, the same rights that are ours.

we probably aren't far off there. but this bill includes american citizens as well.

imagine you were back in the military mm...and someone, for whatever reason, be it a good one or a malicious one, decides that they are going to ruin you. and their clout and position in life or the military is such that they can. imagine they get manufactured "evidence" that is enough to get you arrested and declared an enemy combatant. how do you defend yourself?
on Oct 19, 2006

Of course Ted, there was a Rebellion so to speak going on and the fact that Washington was threatened by a well-organized and efficient army across the Potomac that had made a few invasions into the Union states, both of which were conditions for the removal of that right, and it was only removed for the duration of that War, a war which had clear aims and a definitive ending point.

And now there is an enemy here, ready to kill at any time, but since another successful terrorist attack would tend to hurt the Republicans, you'd be all for it!

 

Please explain to me the difference between an enemy across the patomic then and terrorist cells in the US now?

on Oct 19, 2006
Please explain to me the difference between an enemy across the patomic then and terrorist cells in the US now?


it's not about the guilty, it's about protection of the innocent. rmember innocent until proven guilty? it used to be the whole basis of our justice system. if you were arrested and declared an enemy combatant, how would you defend yourself?
on Oct 19, 2006
I would take stuff like this a lot more seriously if the people who are complaining aren't people who are constantly looking for the sky to fall so they can run around warning people about it. Unless you're deranged enough to be predicting an American fascist government, you have to know that anything that is passed into law now can be changed if the people REALLY don't agree with it.

And that is the crux of the problem, isn't it? That's why posts like this have to take the "threat" to such extremes. People don't give a damn. People will care when something flagrant happens, and then they'll nip it in the bud. Until then they are satisfied to trust their government.

I think if this were some sleepy, small European nation you might make the case that this is a slippery slope. This is America, though. We are a politically unscrupulous nation, armed to the teeth, looking for an excuse to cut down with righteous fury those who oppose us, either in the polling booth or otherwise.

You'll pardon me if I think the whole "V is for Vendetta" thing is a bit amusing. You'll pardon me again if I find it obscene that the civil liberty moaners weren't screaming to heaven when Clinton's goosestepping ATF was kicking down doors and sniping women holding babies in their kitchen. I think there is a lot more politics here than real fear.

P.S. No US citizen is going to be charged as an enemy combatant in a proceding like you describe. There'd be no point. A US citizen would be much better used being accused of treason and made an example of.

The same thing is being done with this that was done with the "domestic wiretap" farce that didn't inspire people to get uppity then either. You're taking something that is aimed at non-citizens and pretending it is aimed at us. If they were out to get us, they could do better than this.
on Oct 19, 2006
I would take stuff like this a lot more seriously if the people who are complaining aren't people who are constantly looking for the sky to fall so they can run around warning people about it.


lol,,,more of the name callin...next.
on Oct 19, 2006
Ted, there has ALWAYS been an enemy in the United States ready to kill at any time. It is just the name that changes is all. Militiamen, cultists, Puerto Ricans, British Loyalists, Fenians Islamic fundamentalists, the Mafia and many other groups have taken up that threatening position, and if you can't see how the circumstances of a Civil War(a time of both rebellion and invasion) and the current situation which is neither a rebellion or is America under military invasion differ greatly, than I really don't know what to say.

And no, disagreeing with you is not synonymous to the advocation of further terrorism, regardless of the party in power, but rather thinking in the long term about that old saying about Absolute Power. Dissent should not put the threat of being labelled an unlawful enemy combatant on anyone's head.... and the fact that torture and the legal apparatus for Purges and other jolly good things which past governments found so distasteful in the hands of their enemies should be so vigorously defended by you sort of scares me.

I'll put it this way Ted.... think about the innocent Americans the Democratic party/The Left could deem to be unlawful enemy combatants if they returned to White House.
on Oct 19, 2006
God forbid I should ever be in agreement with that whining intellectual wannabe BakerStreet (who has just deleted a comment I made on his most recent thread because he had no response to it) but I'm forced, in all honesty, to admit that he (she, or it) has a point.

You're taking something that is aimed at non-citizens and pretending it is aimed at us.


There are a variety of points to consider. First and most important, what are the limits upon State activity? In this case, the limit is obvious: the Constitution of the United States of America. The protections of the Constitutions are afforded only to the citizens of the USA. And there is nothing in this Act that undermines those protections. It is directed solely towards those who are

" a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a combatant status review tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the president or the secretary of defense.”


How does this impinge on the rights of the American citizen. The short answer is, it doesn't. One may, if one is so inclined, imagine any number of scenarios in which nefarious, evil-minded politicos concoct all manner of 'fabricated' evidence against upstanding citizens. But these are acts of the imagination, not acts sanctioned by, or made likely by, the passage of the Act in question. Almost anything is possible - but not likely. The political consequences for any Administration and its Party, should they be discovered in fabricating evidence against a citizen, are too horrendous for any competent President or Secretary to contemplate. Such an act would mean the utter destruction of such a Party as a viable political entity.

The next question to ask, given the risks involved, is why any Party or Administration would be willing even to contemplate such an act. Given the imbroglio that has descended upon the Republicans as a consequence of the 'Foley scandal' (a political non-event on a par with the appearance of Ms. Jackson's breast at the SuperBowl) what imaginable benefit could persuade a governing Party even to contemplate the false accusation of a citizen in such matters?

And the third question to ask is - what could motivate the writing of such an article in the first place? In my opinion, only extreme ignorance in relation to the checks, balances, and remedies afforded by the Constitution, and an almost hysterical distrust of, and antipathy towards, the American system of government.
on Oct 19, 2006
In my opinion, only extreme ignorance in relation to the checks, balances, and remedies afforded by the Constitution, and an almost hysterical distrust of, and antipathy towards, the American system of government.

again, it all boils down to name calling.

fact is that abuses of this are not at all far fetched and give license to any agant of the govt to set up anyone they choose to be an enemy combatant. if you disagree fine. but name calling is out of line. we don't even know each other.