Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Of the many blog commentaries I've been reading for the last few days, this one states the situation perhaps most straightforwardly:

Look. We have a President here who is making a claim of unlimited power, for the duration of a war that may never end. Oh, he says it's limited by the country's laws, but they've got a crack legal team that reliably interprets the laws to say that the President gets to do whatever he wants. It amounts to the same thing.

I am not exaggerating. I am really and truly not.

September 11 started the war. When will it end? Maybe never. Where is the battlefield? The entire world, including the United States. Who is an enemy combatant? Anyone the President says is an enemy combatant, including a U.S. citizen--no need for a charge, no need for a trial, no need for access to a lawyer. What if they're found not to be an enemy combatant? We can keep them in prison anyway, and we don't have to tell their families they're alive or their lawyers that they were cleared. What can you do to an enemy combatant? Anything you want. Detain him forever, for the rest of his life, because this is a war like any other and we have always been able to detain POWs for the duration of the war. But you don't need to follow the Geneva Conventions, because this is a war like no other in our history. And oh yes--if the President decides that we need to torture a prisoner for the war effort, it's unconstitutional for Congress to stop him. They took that position in an official memo, and they have not backed down from it. They have said it was "unnecessary" but they have never backed down from it.

They are not only entitled to do these things to people; they are entitled to do them in secret. When Congress asks for information about them, they can just ignore it. And they are entitled to actively deceive the public about all this.

That's the power they claim. At what point are we going to take that claim seriously?


This post is not a prophecy of doom. it is an urgent call for backup. Please. Please. Please. Read about those cases. Then go back and read about the President's claims of unlimited power. Ask yourself if you want to trust that he will only use these extraordinary powers against foreign terrorists, and never against innocents or U.S. citizens. Ask yourself if this sounds like the country where you thought you were born, or the country where you want your children to be born. And most importantly--ask yourself what you are going to do about it.

As far as I'm concerned, writing some overheated blog comments about how the administration are fascists and this is the end of American democracy does NOT cut it. As far as I'm concerned that's actively counterproductive. If you can't think of anything else you could start with writing your Congressman. You could also donate to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty or the ACLU. More than any of those things, though, I would say: start with learning as much as you can about this stuff, and telling other people what's going on. It sounds pathetic, in the face of all this. But speaking from experience, you'd be surprised how far it can take you.

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