America is no longer free
By Paul Lehto
Journal Guest Writer
Oct 23, 2006, 00:54
Habeas corpus -- it's your most fundamental legal right,
your right to go to a court and get an order requiring the government to prove
that it is holding you in prison with proper legal authority to do so. Without
that right, one necessarily lives in a dictatorship. President Bush on Tuesday,
October 17, 2006, signed a bill repealing that law, meaning that the
administration need not comply or show compliance with law any more with regard
to who goes to prison or Gitmo.
While it supposedly applies just to terrorism cases, that
doesn't prevent it from ending the rule of law in the United States for our
newly all-powerful Executive. This is true not just because terrorism is
construed so broadly in the prohibition of "material support" for
terrorism (which by the way has already been held to include a lawyer's press
release on behalf of a terrorist client) but because the administration NEED
NOT PROVE IT'S REALLY TERRORISM because they don't need to answer to any court
in the land at any time.
Even "Justice" Scalia wrote in the Hamdan case
that "the very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of
separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of
the Executive." That very core of liberty died on October 17, 2006 with
the signing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and its elimination of
Oh yeah, it also legalized torture wholesale. While
misleadingly purporting to prohibit a few forms, upon full analysis it
prohibits none. But who's going to know since your relatives won't be able to
find out where you are anyway, right? Habeas corpus ("produce the
body") was not supposed to mean habeas corpses. Habeas corpus started as
soon as human beings had the yearning to breathe free of the abuses of
unchecked power of a king, aristocrat or lord, starting around the year 1215.
We now have a pre-1215 mentality, all because of fear of some primitive and
violent guys living in caves somewhere. Many of us are not intimidated.
Yet the same day as the signing of this Military Commissions
Act of 2006, a lawyer following her ethical duty to represent her client and
ill with breast cancer was sentenced to 2 and a half years in prison for the
simple act of issuing a press release on behalf of a terrorist client in
prison, which was judged "materially aiding" terrorism. (Such press
releases for unpopular clients are hardly ever printed verbatim in any respect
by newspapers, yet the allegation was that there could be a coded communication
in the press release and there was a no-communication order in effect.) While
this terrorist is a genuine terrorist, there's nothing in the law that
distinguishes between representing serious terrorists and representing
"innocent terrorists" (if there is such a thing) or minor ones, but
in any case, remember, they don't need to comply with habeas and show that you
are guilty anyway! At most, they just think to themselves "this guy's a
terrorist" and you disappear into the torture chamber with no right to be
heard from, even indirectly through your lawyer, which you have no enforceable
right to anyway.
Even public opinion will likely not catch up with this
because people will just disappear and who knows, maybe the missing person just
went off on a lark or a fugue to start a new life, right?
Consequently, on October 17, 2006 freedom died in the
United States of America. We now live in a dictatorship. We live in
a dictatorship even if you think George W. Bush will be a wise and beneficent
king or dictator. It is defined as the possession of absolute power as opposed
to checks and balances.
In the Keith Olbermann commentary at the first youtube link
below; I agree with Professor Turley (Constitutional Law) that people
"really have no idea how significant this is." Turley says we now
have an "absolute ruler" which is really just another way of saying
dictatorship. He's not kidding. I'm not kidding.
I'll be releasing an extended (and devastating, early
readers say) critical piece on this within 48 hours, but in the meantime and
after that please consider the importance of this issue is at a WHOLE OTHER
LEVEL. It's not an "issue" that we form polite activist groups to
The Executive Branch now has full discretion to imprison anybody
they want to without charge or trial or bail and there will be nothing anybody
can do except beg the King. I.e. there's no rule of law applicable to the
administration. EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN LAW was essentially repealed, because the
administration need not prove to anybody that it has complied with the law by
indefinitely detaining you, your relative or anyone else.
Olbermann's commentary, with Professor Jonathan Turley.
The only thing I don't agree with Turley on is this: There
is not a giant Yawn, there are a lot of people shocked, many crying, millions
disturbed, millions more waking up. It's always hard to be among the first to
know and to wait for the rest of the country to catch up, but somebody has to
be in that position. Let's not, because we are among the first millions to wake
up, send out the message that getting the American dream back is relatively
hopeless based on the Yawn seemingly heard today. After all, there is no media
echo besides Olbermann to get the word out and reinforce it. But there will be.
I also disagree with Turley's approach, even as he makes strongly worded
comments that are nevertheless scholarly and restrained in tone and volume,
because it's inappropriate and (if you believe in Constitutional rights) not
unlike talking in a similar dispassionate tone when a masked man walks into
your local elementary school with automatic weapons drawn.
For a more appropriate tone, here's another two minute video
below that was filmed right before this bill was signed but it nevertheless
applies to this situation, and gives advice on what to do when "they come
for your freedom." Paul Revere said "the Redcoats are coming".
Today, "the Redcoats already came."
These situation of legalizing torture and eliminating habeas
corpus is WAY WAY WAY "out there" in terms of extreme. Bush and his
administration are incredibly isolated now, seeking to legalize the very things
we prosecuted ourselves in WWII like waterboarding. If I hear anyone even IMPLY
that we live in a free country, the correction will be swift. WE DO NOT LIVE IN
A FREE COUNTRY ANY MORE. PERIOD.
The hopeful note is this: We can recognize how incredibly
isolated both in the world and in our own country this Administration is, and
we can turn away, and withdraw any remaining support and respect. But, if we
react just in fear, whether fear of Gitmo or fear of torture or fear of
terrorists, the dark curtain of dictatorship will descend further and their
power will consolidate. In the end, Americans will not be denied freedom in a
struggle for freedom on their own soil.
is Under Attack" -- Rollins
Paul Lehto practices law in Washington State, is
a clean elections advocate and specializes in cases involving election law. See www.votersunite.org/info/lehtolawsuit.asp
He can be reached at email@example.com.
(f-bomb warning, but appropriate IMHO in this context)
Copyright © 1998-2006 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor