Yesterday, Bush signed into law a piece of putrid legislation that rips yet another cornerstone from the Constitution that protects our essential freedoms. Gone is the writ of habeas corpus. I don’t care what anyone else says, it is gone. Hardly anyone (except a number of bloggers and a few newspaper articles) has picked up on the fact American citizens are now included. Americans can be arrested, held for an indefinite period of time, never charged with a crime, never allowed access to a lawyer, and never shown the evidence against them so that they might be able to defend themselves. They could just be “accused” of something by someone in the good graces of the powerful. That might be all it takes for you to “disappear” into the system. All it takes is for the President to stick a label on you. “Enemy combatant”. That’s all it takes.
This could be the Salem witch trials all over again. Or the Soviet Union. People could start “exposing” their neighbors. How many people believe that no abuses will occur? We already have evidence that the FBI and CIA have monitored, and no doubt continue to monitor, anti-war groups, most of whom anyone with half a brain could tell in an instant pose absolutely zero threat to this country. Just in the last few weeks, this story broke about a man in Colorado who was arrested for “assaulting” the Vice President because he went up to him and said that Cheney’s position on the war was “reprehensible”. That was all. The man was with his son. No physical contact occurred, although the man admits that he may have brushed the VP’s shoulder while walking past, just as many others in the crowd did. And then the man walked off. Minutes later, a secret service agent came up to the man and arrested him. When the man objected and said that he couldn’t leave his son, the agent replied that someone from social services would take care of the boy.
This completely undermines one of the major concepts that define this country; innocent until proven guilty. This is more than a travesty. This is shocking beyond belief. Never before has this country depended on a person to safeguard the abuse of power, even if he is the president. The very framework protected us. Now, that framework is gone. I am beyond despondent. This country has changed and not for the better. Not by a long shot.
The terrorists have won.
(Here's a little more from Jane at Firedoglake.)
UPDATE: Bob Cesca at HuffPo says it much better than I ever could.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, someone is confused. I'm not sure who. Many national news outlets are saying that this removal of the rights assured by habeas corpus only apply to foreigners. However, I have seen several credible people say that this could also be applied to U.S. citizens. All it takes is for the president to label the person, U.S. citizen or not, as an enemy combatant. That's all it takes for that person to be deprived of all his or her legal rights. I have seen this asserted in several places. Helen Thomas said as much this morning. The most damning statement was by Jonathon Turley on Countdown early this week. I tend to believe that version. I just think the newspapers and major television news programs either haven't figured it out or don't really want to report on it. That is what is amazing me. This hughly significant attack on the Constitution is being met with total apathy. I think we, as a country, deserve what we get if we are this unaware of what is going on.