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September 29, 2006

torture planet

Glenn Greenwald on the recent vote authorizing the use of torture during interrogations:

Democrats in favor (12) - Carper (Del.), Johnson (S.D.), Landrieu (La.), Lautenberg (N.J.), Lieberman (Conn.), Menendez (N.J), Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor (Ark.), Rockefeller (W. Va.), Salazar (Co.), Stabenow (Mich.).

[...]

During the debate on his amendment, Arlen Specter said that the bill sends us back 900 years because it denies habeas corpus rights and allows the President to detain people indefinitely. He also said the bill violates core Constitutional protections. Then he voted for it. [full story]

More Greenwald, also worth quoting at length:

Opponents of this bill have focused most of their attention -- understandably and appropriately -- on the way in which it authorizes the use of interrogation techniques which, as this excellent NYT Editorial put it, "normal people consider torture," along with the power it vests in the President to detain indefinitely, and with no need to bring charges, all foreign nationals and even legal resident aliens within the U.S. But as Law Professors Marty Lederman and Bruce Ackerman each point out, many of the extraordinary powers vested in the President by this bill also apply to U.S. citizens, on U.S. soil.

As Ackerman put it: "The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights." Similarly, Lederman explains: "this [subsection (ii) of the definition of 'unlawful enemy combatant'] means that if the Pentagon says you're an unlawful enemy combatant -- using whatever criteria they wish -- then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to 'hostilities' at all."

This last point means that even if there were a habeas corpus right inserted back into the legislation (which is unlikely at this point anyway), it wouldn't matter much, if at all, because the law would authorize your detention simply based on the DoD's decree that you are an enemy combatant, regardless of whether it was accurate. This is basically the legalization of the Jose Padilla treatment -- empowering the President to throw people into black holes with little or no recourse, based solely on his say-so.

There really is no other way to put it. Issues of torture to the side (a grotesque qualification, I know), we are legalizing tyranny in the United States. Period. Primary responsibility for this fact lies with the authoritarian Bush administration and its sickeningly submissive loyalists in Congress. That is true enough. But there is no point in trying to obscure the fact that it's happening with the cowardly collusion of the Senate Democratic leadership, which quite likely could have stopped this travesty via filibuster if it chose to (it certainly could have tried). [full story]

After yesterday's vote an American citizen can now be legally wisked away to indefinite detention without any form or judicial oversight or recourse. Do you feel safer?

Posted by ebogjonson in politricknal sciences, on September 29, 2006 2:23 PM

Comments

what a wonderful country!

and is it just me or is 'enemy combatant' and like on some bullish/bullshit businessspeak? this administration's lexicon is full of awful neologisms. and where's the 'synergy' and 'outside-the-box' thinking they were taught to strive for at harvard biz school? flunkees.

Posted by: w&w at September 30, 2006 8:27 AM

the farther they push certain language away from its "original" (or at least previously common understandings) the easier it is to make the previously unthinkable acceptible.

Posted by: ebog/gary at October 1, 2006 2:40 PM

"Politics and the English Language" is at least as timely as it ever was...

Posted by: belledame222 at October 4, 2006 8:07 PM