Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Terrorists 1, Freedom 0

Friday, September 29, 2006

Terrorists 1, Freedom 0

It's been a busy couple of days up on Capitol Hill. Yesterday the House, and today the Senate, have voted to pretty much allow the Prez to arrest whoever he wants for whatever reason he wants (as long as he calls them "unlawful enemy combatants"), and he never has to answer for it. He can also treat them however he wants, just as long as he doesn't do anything that he himself would consider torture (and remember, he's "The Decider," so he gets to say what's torture and what's not). Along the way, the Senate voted down an amendment to protect habeas corpus, which is the right of the accused to answer charges against them. Perhaps the Repubs feel that, like the Geneva Convention, the writ of habeas corpus is quaint. And, truth to tell, it is getting a bit long in the tooth. One of its earliest written manifestations was as part of the Magna Carta, which rebellious English barons forced on King John to place limits on his power in 1215, but it had already been well established by that time. It also showed up among the grievances of an upstart group of colonists some 230 years ago. They felt so strongly about it that they put the Great Writ into Article One of the Constitution when they wrote it a few years ago. But, through the great wisdom of the U.S. Congress, it doesn't seem quite so important any more. Arlen Specter, believe it or not, provided one of the best descriptions of the day in arguing for his habeas corpus amendment. He said the bill would "take our civilization back 900 years." Of course, when his amendment was voted down and habeas corpus bit the dust, like a good lemming he added his "aye" to taking our civilization back 900 years. I can only presume that he, like the rest of his Repub colleagues, didn't think through the implications of Hillary getting the Democratic nomination in '08, winning the general election, and having all these new powers at her disposal to put to use as she sees fit.

I'm disgusted with the Democrats on this. Sure, all but 12 (12!!) Democratic senators voted against it, but where were they last week when the "rebel Republicans" were looking to make a deal with the Prez? Where were they even after the deal had been struck and was slowly being slowly eroded away by the White House? Where were they before this morning when they started to appear on the Senate floor and deliver impressive oratorical feats even as it was too late to actually affect the outcome? (Truth be told, though, the statements were quite powerful in rhetoric if not results. Don has a rundown at Article 19 with links to specific posts from Atrios. He doesn't have everything, though, so if you click through to Atrios, scroll around to find comments from Bill Clinton and a transcript of Obama.)

After I heard the news today, I went looking for something I'd heard about shortly after September 11. Back in 1998, John Miller, a reporter for ABC News who's now assistant director of public affairs at the FBI, went to Afghanistan to interview Osama bin Laden. It turned out to be the last interview he's given to a Western outlet. In it, he took credit for the downfall of the Soviet Union and explained how that had emboldened his followers to take on the United States. Now, there's no way bin Laden and others like him can defeat us militarily, so they have to depend on us reacting in fear and turning against our most basic principles. The Prez often says that terrorists hate us because of our freedom, but if that's correct, the appropriate response is not to start limiting our own freedoms.

There's various commentary around the Web if, like me, you can't quite bring the matter to rest in your mind. Molly Ivins, as usual, writes quite elegantly about the whole thing and has a simple request: "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." Nat Hentoff, long-time writer on the Bill of Rights, considered the implications we're currently facing down in a column from Tuesday. And Glenn Greenwald seethed as he live-blogged the Senate vote.


At 7:51 PM, September 29, 2006, Anonymous mike a said...

If Mr. Bush is into unprotected situations why can't he just leave his condoms home and go out cruising like any self-respecting man would? Instead he has to take away everyones protection, just in case he wants to fuck them.

He wants us helpless, like a preadult page in one of former Congressman Foley's daydreams.

GWprz: What are you wearing?
XXXXX: An old habeus corpus
GWprz: I'd find you hotter without it


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