The lights of the “shining city on a hill” have been extinguished, the buildings abandoned and left to crumble.
Q: How many people does it take to gut a nation?
791 years — *phffft*:From Magna Carta in 1215 (and even preceding traditions of habeas corpus) as a foundation of law and civility, how far we have fallen. Debasing those properly in custody debases us all. Disappearing people into custody, uncharged and indefinitely, endangers us all.
“Either we are a nation that stands against this cruel and unusual torture and for the rule of law. Or we are not. We cannot have it both ways.”
–– Sen. Russ Feingold
Digby is livid. But out of heat also often comes light.
The refusal to mount a filibuster (it is obvious that, going in, the Democrats knew that pecisely zero of their amendments would pass – they glaringly, idiotically, chose posturing over principle) – the abandonment of the few applicable tools at their disposal – has reduced the status of the opposition party to that of a modern-day Maginot Line of the Senate.
The votes for the relegation of the ideals, legacy and concept of America to the dustbin of history was made even more ghastly by having the since-crowned Torquemada-in-Chief show up to arm twist and gloat over a Congress that has publicly announced by their votes for passage that they hate our freedoms.
…we are legalizing tyranny in the United States. Period.
There is a profound and fundamental difference between an Executive engaging in shadowy acts of lawlessness and abuses of power on the one hand, and, on the other, having the American people, through their Congress, endorse, embrace and legalize that behavior out in the open, with barely a peep of real protest. Our laws reflect our values and beliefs. And our laws are about to explicitly codify one of the most dangerous and defining powers of tyranny — one of the very powers this country was founded in order to prevent. Article
For the 12 Democrats voting Yea: Carper (Del.), Johnson (S.D.), Landrieu (La.), Lautenberg (N.J.), Lieberman (Conn.), Menendez (N.J), Pryor (Ark.), Rockefeller (W. Va.), Salazar (Co.), Stabenow (Mich.), Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.):
We’re ashamed to share a planet, much less a country with you. You have turned your back on the Constitution and there is nothing one can conceive of that will ever erase this blot on your reord as Senators or as decent human beings. Nothing.
Should a power shift come about after November (and should those of you up for election be re-elected) you will rightfully be the red-headed step-children of the new majority. You should be required to forever after appear on the floor of the Senate sportingan ‘I (broken heart) America’ T-shirt.
Virtually all Republicans will vote for torture and arbitrary detention. The vast majority of Democrats will vote against torture and arbitrary detention. Therefore, it seems to me that opponents of torture and arbitrary detention ought to vote Democratic, and work for Democratic candidates, and give money to Democratic candidates, this year, even if the Democrats disappoint us by failing to mount a filibuster.
As Michael Harrington told the McCarthy supporters who decided to sit out the 1968 Presidential election – thus ensuring the election of Richard Nixon – because they were angry at Hubert Humphrey, “Coalitions are built by victories, not by defeats.” Article
The […] legislation removes a thirty-nine word definition in the Federal Criminal Code defining “war crimes” as including “any conduct … which constitutes a violation of common Article 3,” and replacing that definition with a seven hundred and eighty-six word laundry list of what the Administration wants to define as war crimes.
Since 1949, when this accord was signed, Common Article 3 has prohibited “(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; and (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”
Bush claims, however, that these terms are too vague. So he has offered new definitions for the war crimes statue. Not surprisingly, he offers no equivalent language to “violence to life and person,” “cruel treatment,” “outrages upon personal dignity,” and most strikingly, “passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court.” With regard to this last prohibition of Common Article 3, Bush is asking Congress to join him in violating it by establishing tribunals contrary to this treaty.
But no provision of the proposed law is more telling that the law’s provision mandating its own retroactive application. It states, in effect, that it has been the law since September 11, 2001. This, of course, is intended to ensure that all those officials and employees of the Bush government who have been involved in war crimes (acts prohibited by Common Article 3) are home free.
It is a retroactive immunization of torturers. It also retroactively removes the jurisdiction of all federal courts relating to any pending or future habeas corpus actions filed by detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere. In fact, it takes the federal courts out of the business of providing any redress whatsoever to any alien detained for any reason as “an unlawful enemy combatant.”
One of the most sweeping provisions of this proposed law takes the federal courts out of the business of providing any redress whatsoever, to anyone who becomes entangled - correctly or incorrectly - on the wrong side of the war on terror. It simply removes federal jurisdiction “to hear or consider any claim or cause of action, including an application for a writ of habeas corpus” filed by any non-citizen of the United States who has been detained “as an unlawful enemy combatant.”… Article
…because the compromise bill that the Republicans agreed on last week bars the courts from hearing cases brought by detainees held overseas, it still leaves detainees extremely vulnerable to future abuse.
And that’s not all. Tucked into the bill’s military commission rules are a couple of provisions meant to stop detainees from revealing the facts even of past abuses. As President Bush understood when he omitted the ugly details of the CIA’s detainee program from his televised speech, what the public doesn’t know can’t hurt him.
From the testimonies of a few former CIA detainees and of several Guantanamo detainees who were previously held by the CIA, as well as from documents and intelligence sources, there is abundant information about a range of abuses committed against detainees in CIA custody. Stories of physical violence, sexual humiliation, and extended sleep deprivation have been common.
…according to Newsweek magazine, which could not say whether the practice had actually been used, the CIA also asked for authorization to conduct “mock burials,” in which the detainee would be made to believe he was being buried alive.
The Administration likes to talk tough about its counterterrorism policies, but it does not want the most graphic stories of abuse to be aired publicly. The president has repeatedly denied that the U.S. allows torture; a first-hand account of water-boarding would be an unwelcome rebuttal.
The fourteen detainees who have likely been subject to the worst abuses in CIA custody are now at Guantanamo, having been transferred there earlier this month. They will, at some point in the future, have access to attorneys. With attorneys and fair procedures, comes a risk that information about their treatment will become public. But the Administration has taken steps to block such revelations.
One important barrier already exists. Attorneys who represent Guantanamo detainees have to sign an agreement restricting their ability to speak publicly. They must turn over all their notes and documents before they leave Guantanamo, and they can only speak about the information they have obtained after it undergoes classification review. Only the information that is declassified can be disseminated. The result may, in some cases, be censorship of unwanted information.
The […] detainee bill also helps block such information by stripping the courts of jurisdiction over Guantanamo. The filing of a habeas action is not only a means of stopping abuse, it is also a means of divulging that abuses exist.
And the bill has a final trump card in the form of two provisions. Subchapter IV of the bill, which covers the trial procedures of military commissions, has specific provisions that allow the government to protect the “sources, methods or activities by which the United States acquired evidence” if those practices are classified. Because the government has said that all “alternative” interrogation procedures are classified, this provision could prevent military commission defendants from revealing any information about their torture or mistreatment. Article
And if your blood pressure hasn’t soared yet:
This bill is not a national security issue - this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies. Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place.
Fellow citizens, this bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary - these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.
I’d like those supporting this evil bill to spare me one affliction: Do not, please, pretend to be shocked by the consequences of this legislation. And do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis. Article