"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." President Bush, December 18, 2000
On Tuesday October 17, 2006, President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act and now you and I live under the rule of an official dictator who, in his latest press conference, pronounced the word "intransigence" as "in-TRANJ-a-jence." In other words, now that habeas corpus has been suspended and the chief executive can personally greenlight torture, you and I are now ruled by the direct whim -- whim! -- of the most knee-jerk, incompetent and unqualified president in American history.
Under this law, simply writing the above words might qualify me as an enemy combatant. Should the administration decide unilaterally that my (or Eskow's or Uygur's or Arianna's or Rieckhoff's, etc...) vocal opposition to their regime on the most popular political blog on the internet is offering comfort to the "enemy," I could be arrested and detained indefinitely without ever being told what charges have been brought against me. I could be tortured according to George W. Bush's own personal definition of torture in which waterboarding and stress positions are considered "not" torture. If I perchance managed to secure legal representation, my lawyers might not even have the legal means to challenge the law itself, much less the unknown charges. And it's all perfectly legal now under this despotic regime of Republican cowards.
And that's exactly what they are. Cowards. If you support this bill, you, too, are a coward. The Republicans (and handful of Democrats) who passed this law are so frightened by this politically-driven trumped up threat of terrorism (but more importantly the threat of losing an election) that they're willing to subvert the Constitution in order to attain the illusion of safety.
The Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 9:
"The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
There is no rebellion. There is no invasion and thus habeas corpus can not be suspended. The president and every politician who voted to support this law has thus knowingly and without remorse violated their oath of office, but worse: they've violated the confidence with which we've entrusted them. That trust encompasses the very basic American notion that they work for us to help ensure our liberties and way of life. But that trust has been tossed aside for absolute power and a reasonably large percentage of Americans either don't care or they're not shy about voicing their support for this crap on a stick.
During conversations with Republicans about this and other administration tactics such as illegal wiretaps, apologists suggest that they're not doing anything wrong so what do they have to be afraid of. Of course this line of thinking is dangerously flawed mainly because under the Military Commissions Act, you don't HAVE to do anything wrong to be arrested and detained without your right to due process.
Say, for example, your old granny receives a phone call from a charitable organization and is duped into giving money to them. She doesn't know what that organization is up to behind closed doors. Then it turns out that money is being funneled and laundered through a back door to a terrorist cell. Your granny -- blue hair and Life Alert Button flapping in the breeze -- could be arrested and whisked off to Guantanamo or any number of secret CIA prisons abroad. Her right to know (and your right to know) why she's been arrested has been stripped away by President Bush, allowing the government to detain her for as long as they want.
Now you're saying, Republican troll, that they'd never arrest granny. Really? If the TSA is willing to pull your granny aside at the airport in order to scan her for shoe bombs, then it stands to reason that the government probably wouldn't blink before arresting her for giving money to a terrorist group. Even if she's released a day or two later, do you honestly believe that this should be the American rule of law for the foreseeable future -- that any American can be detained for just about anything possessing even the faintest aroma of subversion?
This isn't America. Like our founding fathers and every American who has served in wartime, you and I should be willing to die at the hands of our enemies for the right to remain free; for the rights of the Constitution; and for the rights of future Americans to live without a band of despotic overlords studying their every move. Yet those of us who have conceded those freedoms are exhibiting the worst brand of cowardice imaginable: if it is, in fact, the terrorist's goal to strip us of our freedom and liberty (including Article 1, Section 9), hasn't our endorsement-of or apathy towards this law allowed them to do just that? You, Republican apologist, have allowed the terrorists to win the war.
The textbook definition of a dictatorship is as follows: "A government in which a single leader or party exercises absolute control over all citizens and every aspect of their lives." The ability to arrest, detain and torture American citizens without due process or the writ of habeas corpus allows our government absolute control over you and I. Sure, you can still drive to Applebees and watch American Idol, but can you buy a book about Islam for research or general knowledge; can you protest against the government; can you vote against the government; can your granny accidentally give money to charity without fearing that she'll be detained indefinitely? Not anymore. That's absolute control. It breeds a feeling of someone lurking over our shoulders. It's about fearing our darker skinned neighbors. It's a general paranoia making us second guess our actions at every turn. It's entirely the conspiracy of a single party regime who at every turn appeals to the dark side of our nature by spooking and dividing us to a level where torture and suspending habeas corpus are legitimate points of debate.
Therefor, George W. Bush has become the first true American dictator. And we're all equally guilty for allowing it to happen right under our fat, apathetic noses.
Lastly, it's my wish that somehow the courts will strike down this law, or that the Democrats, should they overcome the cheating machines, will repeal the law. Either scenario puts those citizens in the position of being heroes in the eyes of history. Let's hope they rise to challenge -- even if they have to take a bullet for the Constitution and the better angels of our nature.