What the bill does is make it legal for the president to detain any "unlawful enemy combatant" for as long as he wants, to subject him to whatever Bush says is acceptable interrogation techniques, and to use whatever confession the poor bastard eventually gives up to convict him at trial. And who is an "unlawful enemy combatant?" Whoever George Bush says.
Donate to an environmental group that is later deemed a terrorist organization? Sorry, pal, but you're providing support for our enemies. Off to Guantanamo for you, pal.
But, I hear some people bleat (baaaa), if you're not a terrorist you have nothing to fear.
Tell that to two writers (yes, writers) who were held in Guantanamo for a joke.
Badr Zaman Badr and his brother Abdurrahim Muslim Dost wrote satire. Not good. Not only doesn't it pay well, it'll get you busted by people with no sense of humor. Like the Afghan mullahs they made fun of in a few columns. In a religious snit, the mullahs turned the writers over to the American CIA, another organization not known for its appreciation of the well-turned jibe.
These writers were then sent to Guantanamo but, as we all know, these guys were what Donald Rumsfeld declared "the worst of the worst" and I don't think he was referring to their prose style.
For months these writers were aggressively questioned about an article one of them wrote in 1998 when the Clinton administration offered a $5-million reward for the arrest of Osama bin Laden. The brothers put up 5 million Afghanis — about $113 — for the arrest of Bill Clinton.
It was a joke more targeted at the poor Afghan economy than at the president, but this was lost on the CIA. It took the writers three years to convince the Americans that they posed no threat to anyone except maybe the writers at The Onion.
And think about this: Bill Clinton has a sense of humor. When a web site made fun of candidate George Bush, he said, "I believe there should be limits to freedom."
Well, now he's got them.
This new bill gives this famous C-student the power to decide who can be arrested and what can be considered torture. As he signed the bill Bush said, “the United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values.”
Unless you consider waterboarding torture.
Once upon a time, when this country still had greatness and honor in its high office, we prosecuted the Japanese for waterboarding American POWs. It was a war crime then. Now it's just an "interview technique." Look for WalMart to adopt it soon for their new hires.
Bush also said that the Military Commissions Act will enable the US to prosecute terrorists “through a full and fair trial.”
What it will do is permit secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and even coerced testimony, so that Bush can order someone tortured into making a confession, use that confession against the person at trial and then execute him based on a confession that was beaten out of him.
Here I thought this administration was trying to push us back to the 19th century. I was wrong. It's the 12th century. My bad.
Because the worst part of this bad bill is that it does away with habeas corpus protection. Habeas corpus is old. Really old. In fact, no one knows quite how far back in English law it goes, but it shows up in the Magna Carta like this:
"No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned ... except upon theToday, habeas corpus is used to determine if someone has been wrongfully imprisoned. It doesn't determine guilt or innocence. A judge looks at the evidence and decides if the imprisonment is justified or not.
lawful judgement of his peers or the law of the land."
Under this new law, if George Bush decides you go to prison, the only person you can appeal to is, you guessed it, George Bush. King George. For no other office in Western Civilization has been granted this kind of sweeping power. Yes, habeas corpus has been suspended a few times in our history, but never has it been made into law like this.
Republican Arlen Specter showed some backbone and tried to amend the act to restore habeas corpus. “What this bill will do is take our civilization back 900 years,” he warned. But when the amendment failed, Arlen voted for the bill anyway. Hell, what's 900 years of civilization? Fuck it.
Bush said this new law sends a “clear message...we will never back down from the threats to our freedom.”
Because as I noted last week, we're getting rid of those pesky things. Freedoms? Who needs them. We've got security.
And our security is in the hands of the man who famously said, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
Our last hope for returning sanity to our land is the Supreme Court. Yes, that Supreme Court. The same court who gave George Bush the presidency in a 5-4 decision.
So long America, adios democracy. It was nice while it lasted.