Feb 24, 2007

Should We Become Like Our Enemies in Destroying our Basic Liberties? Big Brother Promises to Keep us Safe!

But Who Will Keep us Safe from Big Brother?

If we were like the terrorists or so many other repressive regimes, things would be easier in fighting crime, our enemies, and just about everything else that could pose a threat to our safety--except the threat from the government. Democracy, or more specifically, liberal democracy (the only free civil society that exists), can be messy and imperfect. It's harder to go after illegal behavior if the authorities don't have a complete surveillance on everybody all the time. It's harder to convict people, because of restrictions placed on how evidence is gathered, the adversarial trial, the burden of proof, etc. Terrorists and those who hate us sometimes take advantage of the liberties we have in order to harm us. Once we manage to capture those bad people, they deserve nothing more than rot in jail. No? Well, NO! It is supposed to be more difficult to convict, and there should be restrictions on the government's intrusion & powers. Otherwise, the US would be no different (or better) than those fanatical, intolerant, freedom-hating persons who seek to destroy us.

Yes, such systems do exist, but we chose to have a different kind of society, where people can be free to act--especially in their own private domain. Where even persons charged with the most heinous crimes have the right to say, "prove it!" The Founding Fathers thought of habeas corpus as an important liberty and they put in in Article 1 of the Constitution. Habeas corpus means "due process," or, in other words, a defendant has the right to appear in court to challenge the charges against him. The Bush administration has little respect for all those liberties that makes our country great, so it has subverted the Constitution, bent the rules, re-defined the definition of torture, denied habeas corpus, lied about prisoners, sent people overseas to be detained and tortured, spied on foreigner & Americans citizens alike, and has acted with self-assumed abusive powers of Big Brother.

Just think what this BushCo was saying, that detainees in GITMO (our base facility in Cuba) have no rights whatsoever because they are not on US soil! Even if our own military intelligence (and so many other experts) admit that probably some 80-85% of those detainees are innocent, and not enemy combatants. The previous Congress under Republican leadership--and with the votes of many Dems--voted for the disgraceful Military Commissions Act that further stripped certain detained persons rights enjoyed by other accused persons. In other words, if the government determines a person is an enemy combatant, this person become a non-person anc can disappear! Wow, this is Soviet-style justice. By the way, our Constitution provides the same civil liberties and rights (except voting) to any person, not just citizens.

The Constitution gives the right to Congress to suspend habeas corpus in times of cases of "Rebellion or invasion." Is this the case today? I don't think so, unless you buy the argument that this war on terror has no front and will last for ever... It's absurd to argue that we have to give up all those freedoms that make us strong (and a flourishing society) in order to protect who we are! Are we so weak-minded and afraid that we surrender our American freedoms to the terrorists? I hope not, that's why those of us who care cannot remain silent. Criticizing our government is our patriotic duty when the government is acting irresponsibly and unlawfully. Let's not confuse dissent with disloyalty.

This must stop. The new Congress under Democratic control should take a proactive approach: repeal bad and ineffective law, and place a serious check on the executive branch's abuses. There are a series of cases in front of the Supreme Court challenging BushCo's Big Brother, but Congress should not wait for SCOTUS decisions. Instead it should pass sensible laws that reflect our respect for our freedoms and our national character. Enough of the bastardization of our country by the current bandidos in power .