"The power of the executive to cast a man into
prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to
deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious, and the
foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."
And so we sit, shackled by self-imposed chains of fear, captivated by
shadowy forms that move discordantly across the walls of our perception. Once
again we are eager to accept appearance for reality. The Supreme Court ruling
last week rejecting George Bush's military commissions to try Guantanamo
detainees casts a huge shadow on the wall. Many are saying it not only curbed
Bush and Cheney's unlimited presidential power grab, but absolved us of the
responsibility of having to do anything about it.
Everybody's talking about this stunning victory for democracy. That'll
show Bush that he doesn't get to decide everything. The New York Times
opined the victory would "likely force negotiations over presidential
power." In a separate editorial,
"A Victory for the Rule of Law," the Times wrote the
decision "is far more than a narrow ruling on the misuse of military
courts. It is an important and welcome reaffirmation that even in times of war,
the law is what the Constitution, the statute books and the Geneva Conventions
say it is -- not what the president wants it to be."
The Washington Post chimed
in with, "For five years, President Bush waged war as he saw
fit. If intelligence officers needed to eavesdrop on overseas telephone calls
without warrants, he authorized it. If the military wanted to hold terrorism
suspects without trial, he let it . . . Now the Supreme Court has struck at the
core of his presidency and dismissed the notion that the president alone can
determine how to defend the country."
The Post's David Ignatius writes,
"The Hamdan ruling should be a cause for celebration, at home and abroad,
because it demonstrates that the self-correcting mechanisms of American
democracy remain healthy." Thanks to checks and balances from the courts,
Congress and the press, Ignatius believes "this administration's mistakes
are being reversed."
And you have to smile at the Post's wonderfully talented Eugene
Robinson, whose relief was palpable when he wrote, simply,
"Finally. It seemed almost too much to hope for, but the Supreme Court finally
called George W. Bush onto the carpet yesterday and asked him the obvious
question: What part of 'rule of law' do you not understand?"
Such giddiness -- wishful thinking -- can almost be excused when you
consider this is the first time in more than five years Bush has been
confronted with a single check or balance. Almost excused. The media's refusal
to delve into the shadows and ferret out the reality behind them is cowardly,
dishonorable -- a blot on the Fourth Estate. Anyone who thinks this Straussian
pack of jackals whose thirst for power borders on madness will back up and
adhere to the rule of law or obey the Geneva Conventions doesn't know Jack
about George. Or Alberto. Or Donald.
The court's ruling offers no relief to the more than 450 prisoners
serving life sentences at Guantanamo, nor does it address the hundreds --
perhaps thousands -- of those detained without charge in Orwellian Room 101
prisons in other countries. These poor creatures are being held like caged
animals in countries infamous for torture without legal consequence. They are
of no further use to Bush. They cast no shadow on congressional or media radar
Guantanamo Bay is but a mere scab on the corrupt boil of secret CIA
"rendition" operations. In a revealing Jan. 14, 2005, piece
in the UK Guardian, Jonathan Steele writes that one CIA officer told
the Washington Post, "The whole idea has become a corruption of
renditions. It's not rendering to justice. It's kidnapping."
Steele says, "The administration sees the US not just as a
self-appointed global policeman, but also as the world's prison warder. It is
thinking of building jails in foreign countries, mainly ones with grim human
rights records, to which it can secretly transfer detainees (unconvicted by any
court) for the rest of their lives -- a kind of global gulag beyond the
scrutiny of the International Committee of the Red Cross, or any other
independent observers or lawyers." Since then, with The Decider's
enthusiastic approval, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and the CIA have done
So, what was the Supreme Court really up to in its shadowy 5-3 decision
that did not challenge Bush's policy of indefinitely detaining enemy combatants
-- the worst of the worst -- forever, if need be, without access to due
process? It was simply telling him it was time for him to cover his ass by
forcing Congress to make tribunals legal and then he could continue to do
whatever the hell he wants. It provided a distraction from the torture, murder
and suicides that have become hallmarks of the Guantanamo Bay gulag and of the
United States itself. It placated the media, and calmed things down for the
upcoming elections. Democracy is alive and well. Why change horses in the
middle of the stream in a time of war?
When news of the ruling broke, a tight-lipped Decider stared woodenly
into the cameras, saying only that he would look at the findings of the court
"very seriously," while working with the Congress to continue the
tribunals. Bush watchers, however, know that behind the shadow of this
concession lies the stubborn insistence that he is the commander-in-chief; a war
president who is not just above, but outside the law. Bush is prone to brag
that he is the most powerful man in the world and, as such, will accept no
limits on his power. Back off? Cut and run? Not likely.
Order" Bush issued two months after 9-11 concerning detention
of non-citizens and their trials, if any, by military tribunals in his war
on terror remains in effect. In that order, Bush flatly states that any
non-citizen whom he determines from time to time in writing caused --
or even "aims" to cause -- adverse effects on the US will be detained
and will "not be privileged to seek any remedy" in any court of the
United States or any court of any foreign nation or any international tribunal.
The Congress was dragged reluctantly from the shadows to perform a
nonpartisan role foreign to them, that of oversight. The Republicans chose
instead to attack the "traitors" on the Supreme Court and the
cowardly "cut and run" Democrats who are on the side of the terrorists.
Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence
Committee and 9-11 Commission cover-up chief, was visibly angry. He
shouted indignantly at CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "The Supreme Court gave the
protection of the Geneva Conventions to people who don't qualify -- the Supreme
Court made a pact with al Qaeda -- it usurped presidential authority!"
The Democrats scrambled to assert their total allegiance, not to the US
Constitution and the rule of law, but to The Decider, and promised to give him
everything he wants to continue his perpetual war against enemy combatant
plotters and planners and killers.
And so it goes. We are oblivious to the reality of impending martial
law, strict media censorship, and the vanishing power of any government entity
over The Decider and his minions. We are blissfully unaware that we have been
transplanted into another realm -- a dark place from which there is no escape
-- and nothing to do but sit here and watch the hideous shadows on the wall.
� 2006 Sheila
Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information
Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact
her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.