Friday, December 16, 2011

Terrorists Win Significant Victory in War Against American Democracy

Will Conservatives on the Supreme Court Uphold the Constitution – Probably Not in This Case

It is hard to determine exactly what the goals are of al Quaida are in their attacks against America.  But it seems like one of their goals is to change American democracy.  The totalitarian nature of the al Quaida philosophy is at odds with the tradition of American democracy.  In order to destroy America al Quaida may simply be trying to destroy American democracy.  If so, they have just achieved a tremendous victory.

One of the core principles of this nation is that if you are arrested and charged with a crime you have the right to a speedy trial, to know the charges against you, to confront witnesses and to have the right to Counsel.  Really, you do, it’s in the 6th Amendment, presented here in its entirety.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

This is what sets the U. S. apart from al Quaida, and every other non-democratic society.  The government cannot imprison someone and keep them indefinitely in detention.

But the U. S. Congress, both Democrats and Republicans,  and the Democratic President of the United States have decided to repeal this amendment.  They apparently feel that the Constitution does not apply any more. The current Defense Department spending bill allows the government to arrest and detain indefinitely, with none of the rights of the 6th Amendment any citizen the government feels has joined a terrorist organization in the United States.

Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay.

A chief spokesman for the policy is Conservative Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Senator Lindsey Graham said the extraordinary measures were necessary because terrorism suspects were wholly different to regular criminals.

"We're facing an enemy, not a common criminal organisation, who will do anything and everything possible to destroy our way of life," he said.

"When you join al-Qaida you haven't joined the mafia, you haven't joined a gang. You've joined people who are bent on our destruction and who are a military threat."

Graham added that it was right that Americans should be subject to the detention law as well as foreigners. "It is not unfair to make an American citizen account for the fact that they decided to help Al Qaeda to kill us all and hold them as long as it takes to find intelligence about what may be coming next," he said. "And when they say, 'I want my lawyer,' you tell them, 'Shut up. You don't get a lawyer.'"

Apparently Mr. Graham believes that the East German secret police, the Stasi are a greater model for America than Atticus Finch.  Mr. Graham has certainly jettisoned his oath to protect and defend the Constitution.  But then so have all of the legislators that have voted for this atrocity, and the President who will sign it.

Incredibly one must turn to Sen. Rand Paul, a real Conservative for denounciation of this outrage

But another conservative senator, Rand Paul, a strong libertarian, has said "detaining citizens without a court trial is not American" and that if the law passes "the terrorists have won".

"We're talking about American citizens who can be taken from the United States and sent to a camp at Guantánamo Bay and held indefinitely. It puts every single citizen American at risk," he said. "Really, what security does this indefinite detention of Americans give us? The first and flawed premise, both here and in the badly named Patriot Act, is that our pre-9/11 police powers were insufficient to stop terrorism. This is simply not borne out by the facts."

That anyone can read the Constitution and still support this law is astounding; that it is Conservatives like Sen. Graham is just another piece of evidence of the hypocrisy of main line Conservatives.  That Democrats and the President go along with this can only be labeled Profiles in Cowardice.

So the future of Democracy is now left to a Supreme Court, which may or may not even rule on the law.  Exactly how the law even gets to the Supreme Court is in doubt, since it would take a detainee’s attorney to get it there and the law forbids the detainee to have an attorney.  But assuming the law could get to the Court, one wonders what the four so-called Conservatives will do.  Clearly the law violates the intent of the Founders, but since Conservative Justices usually vote their preferences and not the law, one cannot be certain they would overturn the law.

So at the end of the day the Congress and the President have decided that the government has the authority to arrest, detainee and hold suspects without the right of an attorney for as long as the government wants to do so.  How exactly is this different than the totalitarian regimes like the Nazis, the Fascists, the North Koreans, the Soviet Union, the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, the Taliban and others the U. S. has fought against so many times?  The simple answer, it’s not.

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