Wednesday, October 18, 2006

AMERICAN LIBERTY AT RISK: Bush signs US terror trial bill (non-partisan commentary)

Liberty, freedom, and the values espoused by the founding fathers have taken an enormous blow today. I hope the American public will fight back and write back. That our officials have allowed this to come to pass is disgraceful and calls into question where their loyalties lie. Obvious by thier actions, they are not loyal to our founding father's mission as embodied in the Constitution. In a post script below, I took the time to run down Ben Franklin's and George Washington's quotes that would likely express their position if they were alive today. Their quotes hold the same resonance reaching forward over the years and are just as powerful.

The nation, under a two party system, has become grossly polarized. Animosity among the citizens percolates as blues move into blue controlled areas, and the reds move into the red controlled areas. This phenomena has been documented over the past five years, the concentration of reds and blues by relocation to red and blue districts. This oppositional government, precluding democratic discourse by its very nature, can only weaken our nation. The terrorists probably saw this a long way off. A weak and affluent citizenry all too ready to ask their government to take over and defend them.

Our country is being torn apart by our leaders. Their friends are snapping up the remains as they consolidate power in the remaining vacuum of the middle political ground. The first tool of statecraft is to generate divisive perceptions among the governed populace, encourage alignment along these divisions, and then rule over them while they are otherwise distracted by the delusion that they fight against "the other side for the preservation of the national interests". There is no "other side" in that game. It is an illusion crafted to distract and to sedate. Bread and Circuses, anyone?

Yet, there is a battle to fight. There are two sides to the battle. They are not partisan. There is democracy, expression, passion, liberty, and freedom, and there is fascism, control, aristocracy, and upward funnelling of powers. Those are the sides. Those are the battle lines. These are trenches where our predecessors have fought since the inception of our country over 200 years ago.

This bill is a resounding wake up call to all thinking and active participants in our great country. The first order of business is to express your opinion to the official who represents your interests in Washington.

Then, we must focus on the next election, in three weeks. We must focus on the individual running for office and ignore the party affiliation. Review their voting records. Scrutinize their platforms. Hold them accountable to their claims. Read their history. Check out their criminal records. Talk to their neighbors. Find out who these people are! Then vote for the most likely to follow through on their promises, listen to the constituents, and work hard in the office. No longer is it safe to assume that these individuals are well-intentioned souls who pull a party line, as if it ever safe. After all if Zell Miller can become a Republican, what difference does it make what ticket they run on? He was the yellow dog to crown all the rest of the yellow dogs. If he can turn, any of them can turn, in either direction.

Manifest a multiparty system. There is a yawing gap in our democracy. There is a wide spectrum of voters in the middle here. To the extremes we have the Republicans and the Democrats, and very few of us identify with either end. Are you a neo-con who uses religion as a tool to gain power? Are you a liberal that concedes individual achievement and personal responsibility in trade for a politically correct, sterilization of the human spirit in the name of welfare? 95% of voters are neither. 95% are too worried about how to pay the mortgage on the subsistence living they earn in a job-less recovery. (Ever wonder why they don't quote data related to the quality of the employment when they quote unemployment numbers? By and large, most people work a name tag fast food job earning less than $30k/yr.)

How can two parties be truly representative of our interests? How about the fiscally conservative Republicans? How about those people interested in less government taxation? What about those wild Environmentalists? How about reforming how one runs for office and fundraises? How about term limits on those Senators? How about reeling in the lawyers and the health care industry? There are so many causes and useful endeavors. A two party system can only serve to dampen and silence most of these important initiatives.

Let's organize multiple parties, find good people to run on those platforms, and let them fight for those causes held dear by people. In the mean time, we can cherry-pick candidates from the other "two" parties that fit into this model. Let's take back the power.

This new law on terrorism serves a purpose. It demonstrates without a doubt the extent to which are leaders are willing to sell out our rights for the sake of a few votes by playing on our fears. Freedom has taken a severe blow, and I believe that this is exactly what the terrorists planned all along, for us to give in to fear and give up our freedoms for security.

Hailing from red China, an unlikely source of inspiration in a call for freedom and reform, the Xinhuan press states- "Three weeks before the mid-term congressional elections, the signing of the bill was believed to be a deliberate move aimed to shift public attention, at least momentarily, from the scandals that could cost Republicans their control of Congress. (Editor: Mu Xuequan).. if a propagandist paper sees through the bill as a ruse, then it is a ruse, and a dangerous ruse which opens the door to wholesale erosion of the rights which maintain our freedoms. All the more ironic that the fascist Chinese government would give testimony which supports the defense of our own liberties, but then these are strange times.

"With Republicans in danger of losing control of the U.S. Congress in Nov. 7 elections because of voter anger over the Iraq war, Bush sought to put back on the campaign agenda a more favourable issue for him -- national security and dealing with those blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks."

The use of fear, indignation, and anger to leverage our rights away from us demonstrates how little esteem the administration places upon our qualities and capabilities as civic-minded citizens.

Check to see if you senator and state rep voted for or against the bill. Give them a piece of your mind if you agree that this is a misguided and ill-conceived bill whose sole purpose was to gain votes based on the fears of the American public, a cowardly strategy, and one that endangers our way of life. We are a better and stronger country thann to resort to cowardly tactics that use coerced testimony as evidence, allow torture tactics in interrogation, and countermands our own supreme court's ruling on the matter and runs afoul of the Geneva Convention, as they are not POW's ( a loophole exploiting the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law).

If this bill prevails, then you can guarantee the rest of our valuable rights will be alienated as the Supreme Court becomes becomes a gelded and marginalized mockery. All while the executive branch runs amok into dictatorial governance with the Senate in close pursuit with out stretched greedy hands ready for the greasing. this only appears partisan. It is just about power. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, a movie that was almost banned in it's day is just as true now as it was in its day. The stakes have gotten higher, and the number of the zero's on the checks more numerous. The game remains the same.

Thank you for your time in reading this. I hope you will also find ways to cry out against this legislation, especially given that the Internet is so accessible and gaining momentum every day.


Bryan "Beau" Grant
Atlanta GA

Some quotes..

George Washington
The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.

Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.

How soon we forget history... Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. .. [and what of habeus corpus?]

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. [the bill lacks of justice and of good faith]

Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.

Ben Franklin
-Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.

-The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.

-They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-The strictest law sometimes becomes the severest injustice.

-Tomorrow, every Fault is to be amended; but that Tomorrow never comes.

-Wars are not paid for in wartime, the bill comes later.
Benjamin Franklin

So anyways the international news offered some of the following savory coverage....
"The Supreme Court ruled in June that the administration's plan for trying detainees in military tribunals violated US and international law."
"The president can now, with the approval of Congress, indefinitely hold people without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial based on hearsay evidence, authorise trials that can sentence people to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and slam shut the courthouse door for habeas petitions"
"A coalition of religious groups protested against the bill outside the White House and about 15 were arrested."-AP,20867,20601967-2703,00.html
"Since the opening of a US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the September 11 terrorist attacks, not one of the several hundred prisoners held there has been afforded a trial."
"permits the Central Intelligence Agency's secret prisons, and forbids "cruel and unusual" punishment of detainees - without further clarification of what falls in that category."
"The president can now - with the approval of Congress - indefinitely hold people without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial based on hearsay evidence, authorise trials that can sentence people to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and slam shut the courthouse door for habeas petitions,"
"The Republican-controlled Congress last month passed the bill after the Supreme Court ruled in June that Mr Bush had overstepped his powers and breached the Geneva Conventions by setting up special war crimes tribunals for "war on terror" suspects."


At the signing ceremony, Bush could not resist a swipe at Democrats, an indirect shot far short of campaign stump speeches in which he charges they are soft on terrorism.

Critics and legal experts have predicted the law will draw vigorous court challenges and could be struck down for violating rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

They cited provisions that strip foreign suspects of the right to challenge their detentions in U.S. courts and what they described as unfair rules for military trials.

With Republicans in danger of losing control of the U.S. Congress in November 7 elections because of voter anger over the Iraq war, Bush sought to put back on the campaign agenda a more favourable issue for him -- national security and dealing with those blamed for the September 11 attacks.

The upshot is similar.. highlighted and in bold - techniques bordering on torture - A stain on US history

China's State paper -

While the legislation set the rules for court proceedings for suspected terrorists, it applied to only those selected by the military for prosecution. Most of those held by the U.S. military, believed to be about 14,000 and the majority in Iraq, would not be affected by the law.

Of the hundreds of detainees being jailed at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, only 10 have been selected for trial. The indefinite detention of others has been condemned by human rights groups as violating international law.

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