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RIP, Bill of Rights, RIP

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Terry Glenn is a cowgirl, Oct 16, 2006.

  1. Terry Glenn is a cowgirl

    Terry Glenn is a cowgirl Banned

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    On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order
    9066, which led to the internment of 120,000 Japanese civilians, 2/3
    of whom were US citizens, in military camps across the western half
    of the country. Effectively stripping Japanese Americans of
    virtually all constitutional protections (including rights to
    property, trial by jury and habeas corpus), 9066 is now widely
    decried as one of the darkest moments in US history. In 1988,
    Congress passed Public Law 100-383, which apologized to Japanese
    internees, provided reparations and created a public education fund
    to "inform the public about the internment of such individuals so as
    to prevent the recurrence of any similar event."

    Congress should have enrolled in its own re-education program.

    By passing the Military Commissions Act (a.k.a. the torture bill),
    Congress has granted the Bush administration extraordinary powers to
    detain, interrogate and prosecute alleged terrorists and their
    supporters. Anyone anywhere in the world at any time may be
    summarily classified an "unlawful enemy combatant" by the executive
    branch, seized and detained indefinitely in military prisons. As
    Bruce Ackerman points out in the LA Times, the definition of
    "unlawful enemy combatant" includes those who "purposefully and
    materially supported hostilities against the United States" (by say,
    writing a check to a Middle East charity) and may extend to US
    citizens. Thanks to the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdi v.
    Rumsfeld, US citizens at least appear to retain habeas corpus
    rights, a foundation of Western jurisprudence. Foreign nationals do
    not; the Act explicitly denies them the writ of habeas corpus (the
    right to be charged and tried and the right to appeal any
    convictions in a court of law).

    These wartime powers rival and exceed those assumed by Roosevelt
    during WWII. Even worse, unlike the case of Executive Order 9066,
    Congress has given President Bush the stamp of legislative
    authority. In this context, perhaps the most craven vote cast for
    the torture bill came from Senator Arlen Specter. Though he
    believes the bill to be "patently unconstitutional on its face," he
    voted for it anyway because he hopes "the court will clean it up."
    But there's no reason to believe the courts will act in such a
    manner.

    As Ackerman points out, the Korematsu case, which validated Japanese
    internment, still stands as precedent. Since September 11, federal
    courts and the Bush administration hav used Korematsu-like language
    to define a state of emergency and justify racial profiling. (And
    wing-nuts like Michelle Malkin have argued that racial profiling and
    detention of Japanese during WWII was justified, as is profiling and
    detention of Arabs in the war on terror). As Ackerman argues
    "congressional support of presidential power will make it much
    easier to extend the Korematsu decision to further mass seizures."

    Moreover, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court case that
    temporarily jeopordized Bush's extra-judicial detentions,
    specifically cited lack of Congressional approval. Now Congress has
    given him this approval.

    For those who believe that mass internment can never happen again,
    the US now holds 14,000 detainees in prisons in Iraq, Guantanamo,
    Afghanistan and other undisclosed locations. 14,000 people who can
    be held indefinitely, without a fair trial, by secret evidence to
    which they have no access or that may be obtained by what most
    consider torture. 14,000 and counting. Never again is now.

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