It appeared, for a couple of weeks after the election of 2008, that the code orange haze hovering over the American landscape might dissipate. Guantanamo prisons could finally close, it seemed, and we might have a President who would respect the rule of law. Then, however, Democrats in Congress joined Republicans in opposing the closure of the Guantanamo prisons, and Barack Obama followed the example of George W. Bush in declaring that the President is above the law, and doesn’t need to pay attention to people’s constitutional rights if he doesn’t want to.
Now, after a single pathetically failed attempt by an incompetent teenager to engage in just one terrorist attack, the shadow of Homeland Security is thickening.
12 cosponsors have signed onto H.R.4463 – To require that all foreign terrorists with links to terrorist networks who attack the United States or its Government be considered enemy combatants to be tried by military tribunals instead of civilian courts. The bill was introduced on Tuesday by Representative Vern Buchanan. It seeks to establish two separate and unequal systems of law within the USA: One in which people accused of certain crimes are deprived of the right to a fair trial in order to ensure their conviction. If Buchanan’s bill passed, the use of the substandard system of justice would not just be an option for government prosecutors. It would be required.
Not one single cosponsor has signed onto H.R.4470 – To ensure that individuals detained by the Department of Homeland Security are treated humanely, provided adequate medical care, and granted certain specified rights. This legislation, authored by Representatve Diane Watson was introduced at about the same time as Buchanan’s bill. Apparently, a little common decency for people who have only been accused of a crime, not convicted, is out of vogue. Draconian measures are more popular in a nation that gets a thrill out of being afraid.
Supporters of the Constitution and the rights it guarantees seem to be dazed and disorganized. It was straightforward for them to oppose unconstitutional attacks on civil liberties when George W. Bush was President, but now that a President from their own party is supporting Bush’s worst attacks against the Constitution, even the most progressive members of Congress seem unable to mount a united campaign of opposition. Republicans, on the other hand, have been emboldened by Barack Obama’s unwillingness to resist unconstitutional abuses against American freedom.
As Americans eagerly sign up for full body scans in order to gain a feeling of protection against a terrorist threat so miniscule it almost doesn’t exist, compassion and reason are out. Getting tough against freedom lovers is chapter one in the new political playbook