A Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy?
By Mike Whitney
Clearing House" -- -- When Hillary Clinton said that her husband
Bill was the target of “a vast right-wing conspiracy”, her
critics just laughed at her. No one is laughing now.
Next week, President Bush will sign the “Military Commissions
Act of 2006” into law. The new legislation will repeal the
central tenets of the U.S. Constitution which require the state
to charge a man with a crime before putting him in jail, as well
as the 8th amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and inhuman”
punishment. The law will allow Bush to imprison anyone he
chooses and abuse them as he sees fit. It places Bush above the
law, our first American monarch.
The march towards tyranny has been calculated and relentless.
Hillary was right; it is a conspiracy. Prominent right-wing
organizations have worked tirelessly to push the country toward
authoritarian government and they are very close to succeeding.
The alphabet soup of conservative think tanks and foundations
have strategically aligned themselves with the major players in
the corporate, media and banking establishments and removed most
of the obstacles to absolute power. The Military Commissions Act
just adds the final touches by eliminating habeas corpus.
The new law is designed to deprive terror suspects of
internationally-recognized human rights. It tip-toes around the
Geneva Conventions and permits Bush to use his own judgment as
to the precise meaning of “cruel, inhuman and degrading”
treatment. It reinforces Bush’s interpretation of “enemy
combatant” which now includes anyone who “has purposely and
materially supported hostilities against the United States”. By
this definition, Bush is free to imprison American citizens who
may merely disagree with his analysis of the war on terror. For
example, Bush recently attacked his critics for reiterating the
findings of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which
states that the war in Iraq is creating more terrorists. The
document draws the obvious conclusion that Iraq has become a
“recruiting sergeant” for violent jihad. Bush lashed out at his
detractors saying that they had “selectively quoted” the NIE and
were “buying into the enemy’s propaganda”. The question is: Can
a citizen be arrested for “materially supporting hostilities
against the United States” by professing belief in the
conclusions of the NIE if the president says that it is
Can that be construed as “aiding the enemy”?
Bruce Ackerman clarifies this point in an article in this week’s
LA Times. He says the new legislation “authorizes the president
to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they
have never left the United States. And, once thrown into
military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or
any of the other normal protections of the Bill of Rights.”
Bush’s sweeping new powers have been carefully withheld from
public scrutiny. In fact, in the nearly 800 articles which
appeared on Google News, not one of them indicated in their
headline that the new law repeals habeas corpus (although many
articles on liberal web sites refer to habeas to the title) The
vast majority of mainstream articles appear under the rubric of
“Detainee Treatment Laws” which is deliberately misleading and
intended to minimize the grave effect the law will have on our
constitutional form of government. Again, the media has shown
itself to be a steadfast ally to its friends in power and an
enemy to basic principles of democracy.
The new bill also allows secret or coerced evidence to be used
in military tribunals against terror suspects and provides legal
immunity for military and CIA agents who engaged in torture
before the end of 2005. (Despite the fact that retroactive law
has no legal foundation)
The Military Commissions Act is the culmination of 6 years of
vigorous attacks on the Bill of Rights. From the very beginning,
administration attorneys have set about to dismantle the basic
protections which limit presidential power. This has resulted in
a long list of systematic violations to international law
including secret detentions, disappearances, torture,
humiliating treatment, indefinite detention without charge, and
criminal rendition. All of these activities are transparently
illegal and beyond any conventional sense of human decency.
The pattern is unmistakable; the administration is contemptuous
of our laws and will not respect any restrictions on the power
of the executive. All of this is preparation for the New World
Order and the end of American democracy.
The far-right fanatics in the administration correctly focussed
on habeas corpus as the cornerstone of the American judicial
system. If the president has the statutory authority to
incarcerate citizens or non-citizens without filing charges the
rest of the Bill of Rights is irrelevant. This is the primary
lever of tyrannical rule and it explains why Bush has tried to
undo habeas since the arrest of Jose Padilla (American citizen)
in May, 2002. The government kept Padilla in a military brig for
3 and a half years without charging him with a crime in an
obvious attempt to savage habeas and allow the president to
decide who is entitled to “inalienable rights” and who is not.
Under the new legislation, “inalienable rights” will be reduced
to "provisional gifts" from the president which can be
arbitrarily rescinded by executive edict.
When Bush signs The Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law,
America, as we know it, will cease to exist. The fundamental
safeguards of due process, judicial review and the presumption
of innocence will no longer be guaranteed. The heart-and-soul of
the constitution will be eviscerated leaving us exposed to the
erratic and aggressive behavior of the state. Traditionally, the
state has always been the greatest threat to personal liberty.
We expect that same rule will apply here as well.
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