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A Moment of Clarity

Friday, Sept. 29, 2006 1:33 PM


Let us understand exactly what we have done by suspending habeas corpus, even for suspected or actual unlawful enemy combatants.

We have usurped a point of civil law that was enacted as part of the Magna Carta in 1215. That document enforced limits on the power of an unchecked executive, King John.

Our elected officials have committed nothing more than the complete abrogation of their duties and the oaths which they swore upon taking office. The Military Commissions Act suspends Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure and reduces the probable cause standard to an afterthought (there is a distinct difference between establishing the point prior to a search, and after you've found � or not � applicable evidence). The White House primps and claims detainees are granted substantial due process, but strip the guarantee of a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment.

And substantial, in that context, can only be interpreted as rendering something other than the whole. A portion that is judged to be adequate by the very people who have sought to codify torture into our nation's laws. Be thankful, the implied message stands, that we grant you anything at all.

In defining torture through a series of circuitous definitions that are not, as the White House and its moral sock puppets insist, clarification, but obfuscation, we find that those definitions also depend on the interpretation of the Secretary of Defense and the President of the United States. Both of the current office-holders have shown their judgment, and their willingness to accept the consequences of their actions, to be, at best, questionable.

But it comes down to this. By making the first exception, even one that may seem reasonable, prudent, and necessary to some, we have reduced the value of freedom for all. And, if we are to believe the platitudes coming out of the White House, freedom is a gift from on high, something which people desire at the very core of their beings.

To stand there and laud our country as a shining example of freedom when we take active measures to deny those same protections that make us different from countries where dictators and despots rule � is nothing more than hypocrisy of the highest order.

We are still America. We still have cause to be proud of our nation, her history, and our accomplishments.

But our leaders and elected representatives, spouting hateful rhetoric in place of reasoned debate upon the Senate floor, who chose to enshrine fear instead of freedom, on this day, you stand as a grave disappointment to all Americans, and to the memories of your predecessors.

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