Thursday, September 28, 2006

Relief? Despondency?

The good news is that my meeting at work went well. The better news is that it's over and I can relax. Or, well, would. I would relax...

...if today weren't also one of the most shameful days in our Congress's history.

I feel disgusting. I am disgusted. And scared to death.

I say fuck you to the horrible man I used to work with who had the audacity to call me alarmist because I coudln't stop myself from bursting into tears on November 3, 2004.

Alarmist.

Today our government spit on our fundamental values. I am not being dramatic. Innocent until proven guilty is not some pretty little idea. Secret trials, a bludgeoning of habeus corpus, freedom to torture at will along with a freedom from accountability for so doing? Are you kidding me?

I cannot believe this is happening. I cannot believe this country is so unconcerned.

Okay, here. Here is a quote. Ready?
"The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right.

Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit."


Do you know who said that? Wanna guess? George W. Bush fucking said that. In a speech in 2003. He claimed to want to prosecute all acts of torture.

Molly Ivins gives a simple run-down of how insanely un-American this bill is (my words, not hers). Well, and about a hundred million other raving mad columnists and bloggers.

In the words of ElG, "Feh."

40 comments:

  1. We can only hope that this will be enough to ride a few more democrats into congress this election.

    Sadly, I'm not sure I have that much faith in the majority of my fellow Americans anymore - people like my grandparents, who were around for every war since WWII, who don't understand the freedoms they fought for are being pissed on.

    it's just all "YAY, Bush!"

    and I tell them, "Yep, yay! Bush! He's just making it less and less likely you'll have great grandchildren in your lifetime - I'm not having kids until I'm not ashamed of the world I leave them."

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  2. Not to turn this in to a religious discussion, BUT, I am so tired of this government trying to recreate the Crusades!

    I am not a believer. I was raised Pentecostal, but came to my senses around the age of I don't know... six.

    However, I do believe the end times are near. Only because George W. Bush has apparently made it his mission to make the book of Revelations a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    How long before some schmuck commits a murder and wraps himself in some Terror! Fear! Alarm!!! defense?

    Argh.

    But as long as the fags don't marry, everything's fine.

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  3. so are you saying that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others of his ilk should be treated with kid gloves?

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  4. anon- seriously. did you skip that class they require in high school about government or civics or history or whatever? human rights (as set forth in the declaration of independance and the constitution) and "kid gloves" are two very separate things. even the most awful criminals have rights, since any person could be falsely accused of any crime. everyone (even BROWN people, republicans shudder) has the right to defend themselves. that's why people sailed in dangerous boats, died of terrible diseases, left their homes and families to come to this place to start with- to get away from a government that didn't value each person it governed. too bad that government looks plain progressive next to our current regime. it's also, like serrephim said, why we have fought in wars, and sent soldiers to die in multiple decades- to defend the fundementally american belief that we should be free of fear and awfulness, that we (and others) should be represented in governement, and that if bad things happen, we can defend ourselves.

    what i actually opened the comments to say is that george is the same dickhead that said it would be easier to run a dictatorship. especially if he was the dictator. dreams do come true.

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  5. anon 9:14,

    I think the message here is:

    "If we sit by complacently and watch our rights erode, it won't be long until don't have any"

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  6. What is it with Republican Presidents and their hatred of habeas corpus?

    On the bright side, we won't have to ship people off to Syria to be tortured anymore. We can keep those jobs in the US.

    In any case, Clinton's speech yesterday was good.

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  7. anon 9:14 - No, of course not. To suggest so is overly simplistic and horrifying. Upholding the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, the MAGNA CARTA does not equate to being light on terrorism.

    Due process is a fundamental principle of this country and all actualized democracies. Either you understand and accept this as an inalienable human right, or you don't have any idea what you're talking about.

    Yes, even the worst criminals, the worst terrorists, should be tried. Prosecuted. Convicted.

    The freedoms we have that those terrorists hate so much? Due process, our system of justice, is one of those freedoms. Take it away, and the terrorists do win.

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  8. for me, freedom is the right to stay alive. if we don't change the way we prosecute terrorists, my right to stay alive is lessened. you can talk all you want about the magna carta and geneva, the reality is that i'd rather have some of my 'due process' infringed upon in order to stay alive. if one has done nothing wrong, one has no reason to be afraid of this detainee bill.

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  9. anon 10:23:

    PROSECUTING terrorists would be a relief. throwing suspects in jail without being charged of anything, with no evidence, with no trial, indefinitely is making no one safer. it is angering the entire world. it is making us less safe.

    "i don't need my rights if giving them up will allow me to survive" is how democracies die. you are scared into believing you are safer without them.

    this has never been the case. this will never be the case.

    "if one has done nothing wrong, one has no reason to be afraid of this detainee bill" is also simplistic and horrific.

    if you don't need any PROOF that someone has done something wrong, and there are no strict guidelines for what "wrong" is (the president gets to choose at will), then actually, everyone is at risk.

    this sort of tyranny is what caused every revolution in history.

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  10. where in this bill does it state or is it implied that we will be allowed to throw people into jail without any evidence? have you even read the bill?

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  11. anonymous,

    "Enemy combatants" can be detained without recourse to habeas corpus -- meaning they can be detained without evidence. The President gets to define who falls under the category of "enemy combatant". That means that the President now has the power to detain anyone, for any reason he sees fit, for how ever long he wants, without any evidence or any trial.

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  12. According to the bill, An unlawful enemy combatant is defined as a person "who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents."

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  13. I think there may be someone in this conversation that hasn't read the bill, unfortunately I can't tell you his/her name....because, well....one word....anon.

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  14. I think anyone who doesn't understand the power of this bill should watch In The Name of The Father, and learn about what happened to innocent people when the British government had similar rights to detain "IRA terrorists" at will.

    We're not far off from Nazi Germany. Or US internment of Japanese Americans.

    It's a shame we haven't learned from history.

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  15. Anon,

    The thought "if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about" is a good one, if you believe you can trust your authorites, and may YOU can right now.

    What happens when a president you DON'T trust takes office and interprets this bill in his own way and redirects his energy in a manner that may threaten your freedom? You might want due process then?

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  16. The House version of the Bill's definition of Unlawful Enemy Combatant (UEC):
    `(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT-
    (A) The term `unlawful enemy combatant' means--

    `(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces); or

    `(ii) 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.

    >>Basically, it means if the President or the Secretary of Defense convenes a panel that says you are a UEC, you are a UEC.<<

    Further, Sec 948C sub sections (c) and (d):
    `(c) Determination of Unlawful Enemy Combatant Status Dispositive- A finding, whether before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense that a person is an unlawful enemy combatant is dispositive for purposes of jurisdiction for trial by military commission under this chapter.

    `(d) Punishments- A military commission under this chapter may, under such limitations as the Secretary of Defense may prescribe, adjudge any punishment not forbidden by this chapter, including the penalty of death when authorized under this chapter or the law of war.

    >>After consulting dictionary.com, the word dispositive here should be read to mean conclusive.<<

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  17. anon 11:42
    What happens if someday "engaging in hostilities or supporting hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents" is applied to me for protesting the government's policies?

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  18. It is easy to say we believe in free speach, human rights, our constitution and our core values as a nation when times are easy. When times are hard we need to hold on to them dearly. This when we are being tested. This is when we show who we are as a nation. What are we saying as a nation is it is ok to let people languish in jails and NOT charge them with a crime and do what ever we damn well please with them. If the Republicans are so concerned about our safety, don't they want to prosecute these people, find out who they are working with and for, and protect us? It is all so short sighted and sad...and such an incredibly tragic statement about our country.

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  19. "Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror
    to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in
    fear."

    ~ Harry S. Truman

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  20. jeez, come 2009 what will you all do with your free time? who will you love to hate? i'm a registered democrat who happens to agree with GW that we're living in a different world today, post 9/11. the magna carta did not need to worry about planes being purposely flown into tall buildings. me thinks molly ivins needs to have another starbucks coffee and shut the hell up.

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  21. From Section 7, "Habea Corpus Matters":

    (a) In General- Section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking both the subsection (e) added by section 1005(e)(1) of Public Law 109-148 (119 Stat. 2742) and the subsection (e) added by added by section 1405(e)(1) of Public Law 109-163 (119 Stat. 3477) and inserting the following new subsection (e):

    `(e)(1) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.

    `(2) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 1005(e) of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (10 U.S.C. 801 note), no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained by the United States and has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.'.

    A couple of points:

    1. The amount of wiggle room contained in "or is awaiting such determination," given that the decision as to when (if ever) to make such a determination is to be made by the President or Secretary of Defense etc. with no judicial oversight is pretty alarming. They could detain someone and simply not make the necessary determination, and the detainee would have no right of access to a court to question the grounds for their detention. There's nothing here that obligates charges to be brought, ever.

    2. The authority given here is breathtakingly broad and un-checked. It is without precedent. I for one do not trust George Bush or Don Rumsfeld with this authority.

    But the larger point is this: we should not trust anyone, now or in the future, with this much untrammeled power.

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  22. at least ish is bringing something to the table here...all the rest of your are just babbling...thanks ish.

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  23. oh by the way, just so you can see who most of you are in agreement with -

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060929/ts_nm/security_zawahri_dc

    what a lovely man he is...

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  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  25. As with so many other governmental issues, I hate how the questions always come down to democrats vs. republicans. The whole "you are with us or you are with the enemy" mentality is applied across the board to so many politically charged issues. The world is not black and white. The world is filled with endless colors--but your eyes and your mind have to be open to see them.

    The sitting president has managed to alienate not only democrats, but more registered republicans than he cares to admit, with his disregard for due process and protocol. More importantly he has alienated countless Americans from each other. We have become a society of extremes, a society of anger.

    And, he has bad grammar, that dividenator.

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  26. What's so sad, anon 12:51, is you don't realize *you* are really the one agreeing with that man, by stooping to his level, and playing the game by his rules.

    Everything that is good about freedom and democracy just died a little more.

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  27. well said tyra. i even agree with you that the prez has poor grammar. all we are say-ing, is give the detainee bill a chance.

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  28. I think Anonymous is missing a very obvious point here.

    His/her right to remain ANONYMOUS is threatened here.

    While you are probably right, that if you aren't connected to a "terrorist" organization, you probably don't have anything to worry about at the moment.

    BUT

    This bill gives the President the right to declare that ANY organization, say... the Human Rights Campaign, or the ACLU, or even the Salvation Army is a terrorist organization, and therefore, its members can be detained for an undetermined amount time, without the right to counsel, without the right to defend himself, without the right to examine evidence against him.

    It also gives the government the right to use torture techniques to interrogate members of these organizations.

    It is a very different time in history when someone can reasonably say "i'd rather have some of my 'due process' infringed upon in order to stay alive."

    Whatever happened to patriots like Nathan Hale, "I regret that I have but one life to give to my country."

    You should be ashamed of yourself Anonymous.

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  29. we're living in a different world today, post 9/11.

    Chalk up another win for the Cowering Bed-Wetters!

    The Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear missiles aimed to destroy every city in America, but that wasn't a big enough threat to make us give up our essential American liberties. But those guys with box cutters mean business, so we'd better give the President authority to detain and torture anyone he wants!

    And here I thought America had *won* the Cold War...

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  30. "It also gives the government the right to use torture techniques to interrogate members of these organizations." Earth to Jester, Earth to Jester, there is no mention of permittable torture in the detainee bill.

    I want to wish everyone here a safe, healthy, and "detainee free" weekend. Ciao!

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  31. Anon- Have you been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks? Have you not been hearing the debates about the Geneva Convention, and how Bush has decided that he really doesn't believe in it?

    Whether the language is written into this particular bill or not is a moot point. It has already been publicized that torture will not be prosecuted, or discouraged.

    Earth to Anonymous, you should be more scared of your government than of any terrorist ever coming into contact with YOU, let alone taking you out.

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  32. Ciao?

    Oh you're Italian...nevermind.

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  33. It's all bullshit, but it's hardly shocking....bullshit, yes, but shocking, nope.

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  34. Personally, I don't see how we can't give everyone, even a supposed terrorist, a lawyer. There are eleventy one hundred billion lawyers! Just in LA alone! I personally would recommend my divorce lawyer for any terrorist. They wouldn't win and in fact would be required to pay twenty grand just for the pleasure of meeting my divorce lawyer. Really. Sh*tty divorce lawyers could find a whole nother clientele, and we'd have due process and terrorists would languish. Win-win!

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  35. anon - i've got to give you credit for sticking in here and voicing your views in the face of alot of opposition. and i respect your willingness to get into it here in a fairly hostile environment. however, i disagree with you pretty much categorically.

    i won't quote the bill, ish and elg have done that enouch, and with more aplomb than i probably could have. but i will point out that your willingness to sacrifice fundamental liberties because you feel you won't ever 'do anything wrong' is your choice. why should that be forced down my throat?

    i should also say that i disagree with most of the people who have used the tired old line that americans left england and fought and died for such freedoms. in actuality, they fled and fought for much more practical reasons. they fled for reasons like not getting persecuted for being puritans. or wanting to break free of the rather entrenched english landowning caste system. they built the country's wealth, from which all subsequent successes grew, on the backs of slaves and through a concerted effort of genocide agains the indiginous (sp?) people. and they fought for lots of reasons, some idealistic i'm sure, but many more pragmatic. the civil war might have been, at least to some degree in some participant's minds, about ending slavery, but it certainly wasn't about establishing equality. world war two might have been about fighting facsism, but it was at least equally about maintaining important world socio-economic dynamics that were greatly threatened by an emerging sino-german bloc. etc. etc.

    the reason i say this IS NOT to trash our country. all societies have horrible things in their past. and all societies, including this one, have really ugly human nature driven motives continually boiling under the surface. or at the very least are fueled by individuals making individual decisions based on micro-societal influences. but one thing that we've been pretty good at doing over the last couple hundred years is at least laying down strict rules about the role of government and the definition of our liberties. so that even though we know that events will be influenced and shaped by a myriad of not so noble purposes, we can at least retain some rules and principles that will serve as a check against ourselves. and that will lift our victories into a positive light in histories eyes, even if parts of them are ugly.

    human history, and u.s. history is ugly. it is not about beautiful principles, it is much more about brutal pragmatism. but the checks and balances we've created give us a system where brutal pragmatism can serve it's blunt force purpose while being carefully kept in check against principles we can all look to as a guiding light. and that will lift us all collectively and will serve to mitigate our harsher natures.

    but now we've chosen that brutal pragmatism is all that's valid, and it's a slippery slope before we really don't have any guiding light to look to anymore. and nothing to save our souls from the resident darkness of the collective human nuture.

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  36. Torture has traditionally been used to extract false confessions, or to shame individuals who are deemed to be undesirable. Allowing torture, with whatever excuses, really undermines the dignity not only of the victims but also of the purpotrators.

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  37. Well luckily we have a little something called checks and balances around these here parts...this will be tested in the courts, obviously, so no need to be catastrophizing just yet.

    Everyone calm down :) This is why we have 3 branches of government, and not one (or two). There may be morons all over the place, though...

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  38. Anon,

    I understand where you're coming from, but there is a difference between "catastrophizing" and being outraged.

    I am outraged.

    Those 'checks and balances' of which you speak are the very things Bush is aiming to subvert. I do not take that lightly.

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  39. i cannot wait until 2009. president mccain.

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