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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Interpret This

by Charles Harmison (writer), Kauai, Hawaii, October 20, 2006

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Well, it's now official, we are screwed. I'm not sure if you noticed with all the hype over senator sex and Korean brand nukes last week, but in the fine print of most news reports just below the arti

Habeas Corpus 1670 2006 Rest In Pieces. Well, it's now official, we are screwed. I'm not sure if you noticed with all the hype over senator sex and Korean brand nukes last week, but in the fine print of most news reports just below the articles about Harry Potter's demise, and the details over the new Playstation 3, there was a small blurb about a little piece of legislation that was passed into law on the morning of October 17th. The Military Commissions Act of 2006, even George Bush agrees, is perhaps the most important law he has enacted in his six years as president. It effectively brings us teetering on the brink of martial law.

Before I continue, I will list some of the provisions this act allows in no particular order:

1) The "Writ of Habeas Corpus" has been permanently annulled for all non-citizens and it retroactively applies to the detainees of Gitmo and any other secret prisons.

2) It prohibits detainees from demanding the protection of the Geneva Convention and effectively usurps the convention's international laws. It gives the chief executive the sole power to interpret this convention's laws as he sees fit.

3) The president shall be allowed to interpret the definition of torture and make its use legal for any US organization. It retroactively makes those who have authorized its use immune to prosecution. It allows evidence attained through torture, hearsay evidence and coerced testimony to be used against the accused in a trial and denies the accused access to this evidence in order to prepare a defense. In addition, it limits the rights of a detainee to attain council of his or her choosing.

4) The president may convene military commissions in order to prosecute "unlawful enemy combatants" and allows broad definitions of said "combatants" for the chief executive for whomever and for whatever reason he chooses. Citizens so-designated will not have the right to a civilian court of law in place of these commissions. These commissions will have the power to impose death sentences and can be conducted in secrecy.

5) It allows the indefinite detention of said "combatants" without the right to a speedy trial. These detentions may also be conducted in secret.

Now I don't know about you but I for one cannot imagine what this will allow our "fearful" leader to be capable of for the next two years. God willing that is only as long as he's in power. If someone who is secretly declared an "enemy combatant" was innocent, we will never know of it because they will be whisked away, held indefinitely, and perhaps even murdered without anyone the wiser. Furthermore, those inocent prisoners of Gitmo (which there are lots of according to many) will never have any hope of proving themselves so. This sounds extremely familiar to me and in an effort to avoid Godwin's Law let us just say extremely, militaristic.

What really blows me away is that the rhetoric spewed forth by Chaney and Bush continually states that the War on Terror is for the protection and spread of freedom while at the same time they push Congress to enact laws which take those freedoms away. Perhaps we have forgotten the entire purpose of this "grand experiment" called democracy was to avoid this exact type of tyranny. Many of the original settlers and indeed current imigrants to this nation came here to avoid secret prisons, false arrests, and government sanctioned murder, all because they were deemed "enemies of the state" by their respective tyrannies. Now perhaps it might be a good idea to flee the U.S. for fear that someone might be knocking down your door if you piss the wrong person off. Canada is looking better all the time. I"ll take the cold of winter over cold hard cell bars any day. However, if I renounce my citizenship I am even worse off than I was before. Pardon the expression but WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THIS COUNTRY!!!

Normally I couldn't care less about what the military and Washington want to do with their time, I transplanted to California to get as far away from them as possible, but seriously are we all in danger of being kidnapped and murdered?!? The author of the Declaration of Independence, a person I truly admire who may in fact be declared an "unlawful enemy combatant" under these new laws, I quote now with extreme caution, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness [. . . ] when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is [the people's] right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security

Jefferson then lists a long line of abuses that the king of England has enacted upon the colonies I am not going to list them all here but I suggest you Google the Declaration of Independence and read them yourself. How many of them ring familiar to you? I certainly am not abating revolt (you hear that out there I love America) but i am asking for the possible impeachment of a poor leader and a tryant which is perfectly legal under our current laws, at least last time I checked. If our only hope of avoiding secret prisons is making sure that we don't be declared the "enemy" and if the definition of that term is made subject to executive discretion than how do we voice any dissent without fear of government reprisal. If no one knows of that reprisal what will stop them from whisking away anyone they want.

Finally, above all, I hope that we are not attacked again. Not just for the obvious reasons of loss of life and terrible tragedy, but now for fear of what my own government will do in order to "protect" me. If this is how I am protected I would like a second opinion. The leader of Pakistan stated that the Iraq War has made us less safe than we were prior to 9/11 and generally speaking save for the few Bush fanatics out there (and I say that because in order to continue supporting this guy you gotta be nuts) nobody thinks we are winning this war on terror. Moreover, I am truly more terrified of what my own government is going to do next than I am with a bunch of pissed off Muslims living in caves.

Hold on there is someone knocking on my door . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



About the Writer

Charles Harmison is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Interpret This

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By D. E. Carson on October 20, 2006 at 10:32 pm
At what point did the Constitution get hijacked? About the time liberals started trying to assign rights guaranteed to AMERICAN CITIZENS to unlawful ENEMY combatants and ILLEGAL immigrants. There needs to be some clarification here: first, the only thing that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 does is specifically approve what has been going on in this country since 1620! Go back to World War II, WWI, the Civil War, the War of 1812, the Revolutionary War, the Spanish-American War, the French & Indian War and you WILL FIND where enemy combatants have been captured and interrogated. Now, is the captured individual going to willingly just tell his captors what he knows about his army's plans? No, he isn't. He is going to dummy up faster than Harry Reid after the revelation that he engaged in shady land deals in Nevada. As for the circumventing of the Geneva Conventions, you need to read the definitions of "torture" according to your prescious conventions. Among those conventions is a definition which liberals have conveniently forgotten: unlawful enemy combatant. You see, the Geneva Conventions provide the rules for the fighting of a war (in which we ARE engaged, contrary to popular myth) and among those rules, those who are defined as combatants are required to wear identifying uniforms and ensure that all weapons are carried openly and not concealed. The United States and other coalition forces in Iraq are doing this. It is the insurgents who are running around in civilian clothing, hiding out in civilian locations and utilizing civilians as shields in their little uprising. Oh, and one more thing, they hide their weapons so they aren't detected as insurgents. The Geneva Conventions prohibit this and label those who do this as "Unlawful Enemy Combatants". Furthermore, under the Geneva Conventions those who are categorized as Unlawful Enemy Combatants are not guaranteed the same rights as a prisoner of war, a status that is guaranteed specific rights but a status which is not applicable to those at Guantanamo Bay -- they fall under the category of Unlawul Enemy Combatant. As for your labeling of George W. Bush as a "poor leader" and a "tyrant", I challenge you to take a good hard look at what is really going on. Listen carefully, not just to the liberal media, but stop and think for yourself. George W. Bush has not vascillated in the winds of "popularity" for a reason. He knows that what he is doing is for the good of the nation and it is going to be what saves this country! People who listen to Bill Maher and John Stewart are not getting the news as it was intended -- unbiased. People who listen to CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and NPR are not getting unbiased news. It is the responsibility of every American to educate themselves and read from "both sides of the aisle". A politician's worst enemy is an educated constituency. In 2001, George W. Bush sat in front of television cameras and told the whole nation and the world that this war is necessary and that it will certainly not be over quickly and we all believed him. Even Hillary Clinton and John Kerry admitted that the reasons for this war were justified -- in 2001. Of course it didn't take them long to start back-pedaling when things weren't going the way they thought they should. As soon as we started running into problems, liberal Democrats started doing everything they could to deny George W. Bush. They also began saying that they never supported the war at all -- gee, isn't that also lying? The kind of enemy we are fighting now does not believe in the Geneva Conventions. They have only one belief: kill as many Americans as they can. And by the way, that person knocking on your door might be a member of al Qaeda coming to kill you...
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By Charles Harmison on October 21, 2006 at 01:46 am
First of all thanks for logging in to this great site and voicing your opinion about a highly controversial issue. I don't mind that you voted me a zero or one based upon your opinion of the content rather than the quality of the writing, which is what I think the voting was intended. I didn't write this particular article to win friends and I have gotten feedback, which I respect about the writing quality so if this article rates poorly it's O.K. with me I expected a lot of negative feedback based on it's content. With regard to your comment, I'd like to clarify just a couple things without trying to dismiss your general thesis, which is valid albeit misguided. First of all, you skate the line of using the "L" word against me and I by no means am Liberal. Sometimes I find just as many holes in the liberal agenda as I do with the conservative one it just so happens that the current agenda happens to be labeled Republican. I say labeled because last I checked Bush doesn't seem to be very conservative with taxpayer money as we went from a budget surplus to the largest deficit in history in less than five years. They want to spend twenty million on a party for Christ’s sakes that doesn't sound too conservative to me. People who only follow their party line are not only anti-democratic but also many times just blind as they end up shooting themselves in the foot much of the time. Look at the Log Cabins if you'd like an example. Secondly I’ll quote the constitution regarding Habeas Corpus "Article 9, Clause 2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it” This privilege was "suspended" only once, contrary to what you might think about all the other wars mentioned, during the Civil War and that was qualifiedly a rebellion and when it was over it was reinstated. Bush hasn't suspended the writ of habeas corpus he's thrown it out all together permanently. In the war of 1812 though the British invaded this country not one person was jailed without their rights of Habeas Corpus honored because at the time it was very important to maintain our honor to the world as this country was still young. I add moreover that not one member of Guantanamo invaded this country before their rights were suspended. Personally and I know this might sound harsh but I care very little for someone I’ve never known nor will ever know from Afghanistan or Iraq but what I do care about is that we maintain our national sense of honor when dealing with them. If they had nothing to do with 9/11 or even may hate the Taliban as much as you, talk about emboldening the enemy you've just created one out of his entire family, friends and pet dog because you've jailed an innocent. The trial of an accused ensures that someone incarcerated is in fact guilty because if just one person is innocent then we must suspect that all might be. Look at what's happening to death row cases overturned by DNA evidence the entire system comes into question and the evilest prisoner gains sympathy because one of them was innocent. There are some murderers relying on this because they feel there may be no DNA evidence to link them to their crime even when they are guilty as hell. Defense attorneys have entire divisions that deny these cases thankfully before anybody hears of it. Regarding what was said about "my precious conventions" a characterization that I’m not afraid to admit makes me proud by the way, yes many of the "enemies" have disguised themselves as civilians and by doing so have themselves dissolved their rights of protection by this "precious convention" but this fact only strengthens the need to make certain that we have imprisoned an "unlawful enemy combatant" and not one of the innocent bystanders that he disguised himself among. You wonder why the insurgency is gaining support well I’ll tell you before we started putting everyone and their mother in prison their were a lot of Iraqi's and Afghani’s who were afraid of their respective governments and did not openly support these oppressive regimes but as soon as we started jailing and torturing innocents we became no better than the people that we replaced. I ask you to look at the footage of Abu Ghraib they certainly did. Finally regarding the third to last paragraph other than the sheer hypocrisy of it I will only say this, you mention what makes a good leader is one who doesn't "vacillate in the winds of popularity" I agree somewhat until your next sentence. "He knows that what he is doing is for the good of the nation and it is going to be what saves this country!" Um someone else mentioned similar rhetoric at about the turn of the third decade of the twentieth century in a little country called Germany and it wasn't for the good of their country to follow him blindly just as it isn't the case today. I know I was trying to avoid Godwin's Law and here I am at the end invoking Germany but I just couldn't help it, it's an apt analogy. It's fear that is the bread and butter of the Bush admin and I’m truly sorry for you that it seems to be working. If Bush wants to use fear to get his agenda pushed I say he’s playing right into the terrorists’ hands something for which I accused him of being a bad leader. Personally, I will never fear al Qaeda not even if they blow up every last building and kill every last American. If I’m the last one standing I will spit in their face and walk away back turned because it's fear that makes them win. Its fear that is the desired result of terrorism and as long as there are some Americans who aren't afraid of a bunch of ignorant zealots they'll never get what they want from us.
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By Thomas T. on October 21, 2006 at 04:07 pm
Last paragraph of your response note - perfectly stated. The problem of this admninistration is not conservatism vs. liberalism, Republican vs. Democrat. It's that is feeds on fear - it gains its foothold by fostering fear. Reacting in fear is not only playing into the terrorist's hands, it is destructive to freedom and democracy. And these neocons are fear merchants. Every erosion of the Constitution that they are guilty of should be a nail in their impeachment coffin, no matter how much danger we think we might be in from terrorist attack.
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