Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Military Commissions Act - an outrage on civil rights.

Remember that old saying innocent until proven guilty? Apparently there is no room in the War on Terror for such legal delicacy. Ever since 9/11, the Bush administration has incrementally eroded the rights of not only foreign terror suspects, but American citizens as well. I give you the Patriot Act, the NSA wiretapping (which is far more extensive than the administration admits) and now the Military Commissions Act. Under this bill, which Bush signed into law today, anyone he or Rumsfeld want can be detained indefinitely without charges and eventually tried by a military tribunal without even seeing the evidence against him. The text of this bill can be seen in part here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c109:4:./temp/~c109xDe3kj:e8389:
and in entirety here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c109:2:./temp/~c1095sklM9::
In the first link, take note of Sec948d.(c), and below it note that punishment can include the death penalty. The courts can not even challenge this legislation. This is outrageous. Is the President unconcerned about how he will be remembered - as a war-monger, as a hypocrite, as a civil rights eroder? - or is this nothing more than an October surprise to remind his base about the nebulous War on Terror in order to fire them up for next month's elections? The President says "we do not torture," but after all the other lies and vagaries we have been fed, who really believes him?
In this class, we often focus on the plight of others in the third world, and they are certainly suffering rights infractions far greater than we are in this country, but at what point is enough enough? What will Bush do next in the name of "protecting the homeland" while we watch his wars on TV?
If the military commissions act doesn't concern you, what about a national ID card outfitted with RFID chips? What about the notion that speaking out against the government could be considered aiding terrorists and land you in one of these tribunals? This is just beginning and we should all be very concerned.


Malika said...

The Patriot Act, I believe increased the targeting of non-citizens. For example under this act, non-citizens could be deported for simple, innocent associational activity with a terrorist organization rather than for actively engaging in or supporting its causes and actions. This “guilt by association,” to me, seems to be the very embodiment of the new U.S. obsession with fear. The Act also allowed for the monitoring of foreign nationals studying in the United States. Therefore it seems that this act is almost synonymous with an egregious and unjustifiable suspension of the Bill of Rights.

However, after reading this post and the information linked to it, I feel that the Bush administration is beating its own record. How can you possibly try someone withot seeing the evidence against him? Isn't this the United States of America? Don't we believe in civil liberties? And has this obsession with fear reached such heights that there is little place left rational thought?

Anonymous said...

WOW, where do I begin?

First of all, I would like to start by saying that the Bill of Rights was passed in 1789. The world was a lot different 217 years ago. Technology was far from as advanced as it is today, globalization was very minimal and the United States was still a young country with little history in domestic and foreign affairs.

Now everything is different. The world is a lot more mobile, illegal immigrants have more means of getting into this country, and terrorists have more technology to use against our country. Not to mention, the U.S. has made many mistakes in the past, as have MANY other countries. Now that the U.S. is the number one superpower emerging after the Cold War and has 44% of the world's military power, many people are very skeptical towards us, fear us, and hate us.

Now let's get to this blog article. One of the biggest reasons why we have a government is to protect us and to be our security. The Bill of Rights need to be interpreted to fit our ever changing world. Since the world has evolved into a more technologically scary place, our government needs to step up and do something about our security. What the Bush Administration has been doing is at least a start, and our country could always work out provisions.

I think its ridiculous that people complain about the government spying on what internet sites we access on the library. How do you think these terrorists living amidst us in our own country learn what they do? Yes, so the government will probably spy on the wrong people here and there, but I think its worth us giving up that right if it will catch even one terrorist from committing barbaric acts against people in my country. And wiretapping--if you are a law abiding citizen, what do you have to hide? Maybe this will teach people to not violate the law or they will get caught easier.

However, the Military Commissions Act seems like it is taking away too much of our civil rights. It is not right that the government can try someone without evidence and the courts cannot challenge this. That completely goes against our entire legal system.

"Is the President unconcerned about how he will be remembered - as a war-monger, as a hypocrite, as a civil rights eroder?"
--My response to this juvenile statement will probably not fit in the space alotted in this blog. So I will move on.

"The President says "we do not torture," but after all the other lies and vagaries we have been fed, who really believes him?"
Oh, please. Lies? We wasted our time trying to get UN approval to entire Iraq and Saddam had plenty of time to get rid of his weapons of mass destruction/ supplies before we invaded. We relied on the information provided by many intelligence agencies from other countries. If you are calling President Bush a liar, you are calling many other nations a liar. President Bush would not have been a liar if we didn't leave Saddam too much time when we were waiting for the ridiculously inaffective UN.

"If the military commissions act doesn't concern you, what about a national ID card outfitted with RFID chips?"
Why would a national ID card outfitted with RFID chips concern me? Once again, if you've got nothin to hide, then why are you worried? This will also help resolve the issue of illegal immigrants.


Raj Peter Bhakta, a former Trump "Apprentice" contestant, Bhakta decided to see if he could get an elephant accompanied by a six-piece mariachi band across the river.



--Kristy G

Hasty said...

Thank you, that really helped reinforce my point. Bush continually invokes 9/11 and all the emotions that entails. He says this law will enable him to bring justice to those who "orchestrated 9/11." But what justice can be delivered without showing anybody the evidence? I'm convinced its a scapegoat hunt, just like last years trial against Mossaui.

Lindsey said...

I think, Kristy, where your logic is flawed is that there is real problem with the Military Commissions Act and the Patriot Act allowing for "spying on the wrong people here and there." You are assuming that those in power who implement these acts will use them benevolently. I fear, however, that they give too much room to leaders to use them according to their own interests. If you were a corrupt leader and you knew of a citizen who was an activist against your platform, and were able to screen his or her phone calls or internet access, don't you think that it would be rather easy for you to twist his or her words or actions into something that, according to this new act, provided for him or her to be accosted without being shown the evidence against him or her and without checks and balances by the courts? I know you disagree with the Military Commissions Act, but can't you see that it is just an extension of the Patriot Act? The next step is truly frightful. Who would protect a person arrested for speaking out against the Administration? That power to protect has been removed. Whatever you want to call it, the domino effect, the snowball effect, or the frog in the boiling water, something as simple as screening phone calls has led to this. So it really is a huge deal.

Elle said...

I have to agree with Hasty and Lindsey. This act is alarming! and literally, for the first time in my life I feel ashamed of my government. What I don;t understand is: How could this act have passed through Congress? and with such a wide margin of acceptance? Can't people see that this fundamentally violates the Constitution? Two of our most important principles are due process of law and habeus corpus. This is what makes the US a "free" country. How could our Congress possibly vote for something which goes against fundamental staples of the American government? I struggle to get it.
Lindsey has a very good point about the leaders who have this type of control. As a free individual in a "free" country, I think that it is extremely frightening that the US government could moniter my actions. This ability to garner information can quickly and easily lead to the censure of normal Americans free speech. What I think is so frightening about the Military Commissions Act is that in inhibts the ability of the courts to investigate potential abuse. How can we keep the wiretapping and spying in control if the judicial branch is denied its powers?
The implications of this act absolutly ridicultous. What is even more frightening is that Congress passed it.

jolly j said...

As I was reading a book for my Modern Germany class, I came across something that sounded very familiar and disturbing.
This quote about concentration camps is from Doris Bergen's 'War & Genocide" (capitalization is my own):
"Authorities also spoke of the camps as a place to put troublemakers into 'protective custody for the restoration of law and order.' Under that guise, the Nazi government gave itself the LEGAL RIGHT TO IMPRISON SUBJECTS WITHOUT A TRIAL."
The United States government is in a sorry state when they can be compared to Hitler's Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, Bush's Military Commission Act is headed on the same track...