This Time, Congress Has No Excuse

Of all the stupid, lazy, short-sighted, hasty, ill-conceived, partisan-inspired, damage-inflicting, dangerous and offensive things this Congress has done (or not done) in its past few recent miserable terms, the looming passage of the terror detainee bill takes the cake. At least when Congress voted to authorize the Iraq War legislators can point to the fact that they were deceived by Administration officials. But what's Congress' excuse now for agreeing to sign off on a law that would give the executive branch even more unfettered power over the rest of us than it already has?

It just keeps getting worse. This morning, esteemed Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman published this fine essay in the Los Angeles Times. His lead? "Buried in the complex Senate compromise on detainee treatment is a real shocker, reaching far beyond the legal struggles about foreign terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay fortress. The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.

"This dangerous compromise," Professor Ackerman continued, "not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops 'during an armed conflict,' it also allows him to seize anybody who has 'purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.' This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison."

Scary enough for you? But wait, there is more. The legislation also appears to allow illegally-obtained evidence-- from overseas or right here at home-- to be used against enemy combatants (which gives you an idea of where this Congress really stands on the National Security Agency's domestic spying program). And wait, there is this: the Administration's horrible track record when it comes to identifying "enemy combatants" and then detaining them here in the States. Two of the most famous ones, Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, both ended up having the highest courts in our land back up their legal claims, which is why the government had to release Hamdi outright and then turn Padilla over to the regular civilian courts (where he is a defendant in a weak case against him).

Do you believe the Administration has over the past five years earned the colossal expanse of trust the Congress is about to give it in the name of fighting terrorism? Do you believe that Administration officials will be able to accurately and adequately identify so-called "enemy combatants" here at home so as to separate out the truly bad guys from the guys who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did you want your legislative branch to abdicate so completely its responsibility to ensure that there are adequate checks and balances upon executive power even in a time of terror? You might have answered "no" to all three questions. But your answer doesn't matter. And neither does mine. To Congress, the answer is "yes, sir." Our Congress is about to make yet another needless mistake in the war on terror and this time the folks making it won't be able to say that the White House tricked them into it.

By Andrew Cohen |  September 28, 2006; 2:00 PM ET
Previous: The Detainee Bill Now Gets Even Worse | Next: After Err Inhuman, This Vote Supine


Please email us to report offensive comments.

What name shall we call this bill but the America Tortures Act of 2006. Torturecrats like Ford of Tennessee, Brown of Ohio, and Nelson of Nebraska will be Liebermanized at the most proximate opportunity.

Posted by: Mike Meyer | September 28, 2006 02:20 PM

The fact that we--mere citizens--have allowed Congress to reach the brink of passing one of the most reckless and foolish laws in decades is astounding.

Congress is set to gut the Constitution of one of the central rights our Founders fought for, and we are all asleep.

Shame on the Republican majority for going lock-step with the President. Shame on Democrats for fighting for what's right in order to avoid looking "soft" on terrorism.

Shame on us for not saying this is wrong.

We have remained stunningly quiet in the face of a monumental gutting of the Constitution.

We have been asleep.

We are asleep.

Posted by: Ted Atkinson | September 28, 2006 02:25 PM

Fine, just let the jack-booted feds seize an American citizen and subject him or her to their new brand of "justice." Then see the violence that will arise in the streets. So, what do the conservatives who sobbed and whined about the Branch Davidians thing about this new law?

Posted by: CT | September 28, 2006 02:30 PM

It's time for the editorial boards to come right out and say that Congress has just aided and abetted a Dictatorship. NOW.

Posted by: Moe | September 28, 2006 02:42 PM

I'd like to march on capitol hill with a megaphone and give these fools who would sacrifice, for political purposes, the framework that makes this country great a piece of my mind. Damn if it werent for this irrational fear I have of being "disapeared" at dubya's discretion.

Posted by: DeadBird | September 28, 2006 02:48 PM

I'm just shocked at this power being handed to the President, how can be anybody be allowed to lock up citizens without access to courts ? where is the outrage ? I guess most people will just shrug their shoulders and think only "bad" can be picked up and locked away.

Posted by: Samir | September 28, 2006 02:53 PM

Samir, I think you hit the nail on the head. Sadly enough, for the most part, people are fine with this law, so long as they are comforted by the belief that it will never happen to them. Perhaps it never will, but the fact that we released a bunch of folks after holding them for years at Gitmo (I guess they weren't that much of a threat after all) makes me think otherwise.

Posted by: OD | September 28, 2006 02:54 PM

Smells more and more like 1930's Germany around this place
But gotta get something passed since they are going home to run for re-election and besides it will give Karl Rove some more material
Americans get the government they deserve

Posted by: Brian | September 28, 2006 02:55 PM

As a Canadian who travels regularly to the US on business, I would have, at one time, given a hand to become a US citizen or, at the very least, to obtain a Green Card: no more. I work with intelligent Americans--Harvard MBAs, for God sake's--and am flabergasted at the way you have allowed a rogue Executive to supplant Al Queda as the greatest challenge, today, to the security and liberty of your once great Republic. Not shame on Bush; shame on those who lack the courage to defy him!

Posted by: The View From Up Here | September 28, 2006 02:59 PM

Why no filibuster? We are now a land of "guilty until proven innocent" except that one doesn't have the opportunity so it's "guilty until you simply rot away in jail." Isn't having the right to convict someone without revealing the evidence used to determine guilt the hallmark of a regime like, say, Saddam Hussein's?

Posted by: TT | September 28, 2006 03:00 PM

What a horror. We're throwing away our best tool against terrorism.

Posted by: J | September 28, 2006 03:01 PM

When I was in high school I learned that members of the House of Representatives stood for re-election every two years, and Senators stood for re-election every six years.

It occurs to me watching this travesty that "re-election" is just about the only thing our elected representatives really stand for, and I am reminded of a line from "Revenge of the Sith: "So this is how democracy dies: with thunderous applause."

Posted by: Pablo | September 28, 2006 03:04 PM

I just called Senator John Warner's (VA)office and they were "proud" of the Senator's vote and saw no problem with admiting that I, as a US born citizen and resident of the Commonwealth of VA, could be held without charge at the whim of the President.

The aid explained that if this did happen to me, I would be able to have a review within one year of my detention.

One year. Maybe.

I don't know if American or Virginia understands that they are giving this power to the President.

I'm ashamed of my Senator and other Representatives from Virginia. They rushed this through--thinking they were winning a "score" for the party. Voters WILL remember this on election day.

Posted by: EIO | September 28, 2006 03:06 PM

This almost-law is ghastly, but it does not have long to live. Thankfully, Marbury v. Madison is still good law. No Federal Judge in the country will allow this law to live as written.

What is most scary to me is that most Senators are also lawyers, and smart ones at that. Every one of them knows that this almost-law is never going to survive a Constitutional challenge. So much for their oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States, huh?

Posted by: The | September 28, 2006 03:17 PM

John and Jane Citizen, you will reap what you choose NOT to sew. You cannot say you were not warned, you cannot say I didn't know. The lack of courage, conviction, and action on your part is directly hurting you. By NOT acting and allowing the erosion of these rights which our forefathers fought and died for, your inaction is a direct ACTION to permit the era of an American Dictatorship.

I both greive and loathe the ignorant American poeple for they are squandering their blessings and at the hands of a psychophant dry drunk who has been nothing but WRONG.

John and Jane Citizen, your too self absorded and narccistic gazing at your own shoe laces as you are march over the cliff to tyranical rule.



Posted by: Dan | September 28, 2006 03:22 PM

Oh golly, people like Dan are why there are some out there that paint the Democrats as radicals...GWB is a terrible president but calling him a terrorist does nothing to help out the situation. How about pointing out a specific instance where his policies are incorrect, then offering a better solution?

Posted by: The | September 28, 2006 03:23 PM

Is anyone aware of an organized protest being planned against Congress and the President's choice to legalize torture and suspend habeous corpus?

If not, would you like to help get one going?

Somebody start a website, start collecting names and emails and let's make this happen.

Posted by: DCDireWolf | September 28, 2006 03:26 PM

"There appears, indeed, one memorable occasion, in which the senate, after seventy years of patience, made an ineffectual attempt to reassume its long-forgotten rights. When the throne was vacant by the murder of Caligula, the consuls convoked that assembly in the Capitol, condemned the memory of the Caesars, gave the watchword liberty to the few cohorts who faintly adhered to their standard, and during eight and forty hours acted as the independent chiefs of a free commonwealth. But while they deliberated, the Praetorian Guards had resolved. The stupid Claudius, brother of Germanicus, was already in their camp, invested with the Imperial purple, and prepared to support his election by arms. The dream of liberty was at an end; and the senate awoke to all the horrors of inevitable servitude. Deserted by the people, and threatened by a military force, that feeble assembly was compelled to ratify the choice of the Praetorians, and to embrace the benefit of an amnesty, which Claudius had the prudence to offer, and the generosity to observe"

Gibbons, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Posted by: Brian | September 28, 2006 03:32 PM

Response to Brian

Americans dont't all get the government they deserve...Only the ones who voted for this evil administration do. What about those of us Sane, Thinking Americans who didn't vote for these clowns? Did we get what WE deserve?

Posted by: Laura | September 28, 2006 03:37 PM

The bill being debated is excellent, and will help protect us.
The Constitution is "Not a suicide pact". All of you should read Judge Posner's excellent book (just published) on this subject, for some perspective. You all seem to have a September 10 point of view. September 11 really did change things. You don't seem to get it!!

Posted by: Peter | September 28, 2006 03:40 PM

Oh GOLLY some people are truly ignorant.

THE incorrectly stated;
Oh golly, people like Dan are why there are some out there that paint the Democrats as radicals...GWB is a terrible president but calling him a terrorist does nothing to help out the situation. How about pointing out a specific instance where his policies are incorrect, then offering a better solution?

If you took the time to read I did not call Chimpy a terrorist, I stated, correctly, we are allowing the terrorists, people like Al-Qaida who mean us harm, to win.

Now with your request to point out examples of where his policy are wrong, I could do a dissertation on the extensive mistakes he has made both foreign (1/7 troops in Afghanastan as Iraq) and domestic (unchecked spending ballooning the defecit 45%, borrowing more money 1.3 trillion in the first four years than all other presidents in history combined) but lets stay on subject ok skippy?

Rendition programs which have already been proven illegal and where they got the wrong people. Suspension of Habeaus Corpus, sanctioning waterboarding, recognized by all international bodies as torture.

My question to you skippy is when did your last moral fiber die? Why do you hate America and why won't you defend it?

Posted by: | September 28, 2006 03:41 PM

I sent an e-mail to both of my Maryland Senators last week, urging a filibuster against this horrible, horrible bill. Thus far, Sarbanes - who is a lame duck and assumedly has nothing to lose - is the only one who responded, and while he said all the right things he refused to commit to a filibuster. I haven't heard anything from Mikulski. Where is the Democratic Party on this? No wonder they can't win any elections. They don't stand for anything - even the Bill of Rights.

May God have mercy on this Country.

Posted by: Richard | September 28, 2006 03:43 PM

But Laura...
How many people in this county are not registered and/or do not vote and by doing so share in the responsibility for where our country is being taken
My recollection is that in the last 2 national elections far less the 50% of the eligible voters did vote

Posted by: Brian | September 28, 2006 03:43 PM

Peter, got your brown shirt ironed? polish your gestapo boots? Why aren't you in Iraq Chickenhawk?

Nevermind you will be in Iran soon enough.

Posted by: Heterodoxy | September 28, 2006 03:45 PM

I fully agree with the previous comments that this is a heart-breaking moment for our country. I called my two senators and asked them to stop it, but they took no position at all. How can we sit and watch as our values keep being tossed out the window one by one so that one party can use laws like this as a wedge issue and the other party idly watches so as not to jeopardize their chances in the next 6 weeks? This is how tyranny takes hold....

Posted by: Just Paul | September 28, 2006 03:51 PM

May I add another group to heap scorn upon - the nightly news. The papers, especially the editorial sections are doing a decent job of reporting this fiasco - But the nightly news? Did they even mention that the senate was about to vote for torture.

Posted by: John McClinton | September 28, 2006 03:54 PM

Well, I like the bill ... because it sounds like we can lock up the 2.2 lawyers per detainee at Guantanamo for conspiracy and then feed them politically correct meals which would be less expensive to the taxpayer than paying them $300 per hour to misrepresent their alleged clients in the newspapers and if they won't talk to us then we can take them out and waterboard 'em (in secret of course) just like we waterboarded tens of thousands of our elite combat units over the past 30 years. Go For IT ...

Posted by: E | September 28, 2006 04:00 PM

Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils. This is the official state motto of New Hampshire and a pretty good one. Yes, Peter, 9/11 did change some things, but it shouldn't be allowed to change everything. The Declaration of Independence says Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, but many seem easy with the notion that we can sacrifice the last two if we are secure in the first.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 28, 2006 04:00 PM

You should work for the Bush campaign, the way you oversimplify an issue and demonize those who disagree with you. I hate America because I disagree with you when you say:
"I both greive [sic] and loathe the ignorant American poeple [sic] for they are squandering their blessings and at the hands of a psychophant dry drunk who has been nothing but WRONG."
Let's examine your statement above, why don't we?
(1) You "loathe the ignorant American poeple [sic]?" You loathe those with whom you disagree? That does not seem reasonable to me.
(2) GWB is a "psychophant?" Well, I had never seen that word before so I looked it up and, skippy, I was right! That's not a word.
(3) GWB has been "nothing but wrong?" He has not done one thing right? Ever? In his life? Again, unreasonable and unhelpful argument.

Now, Dan, if I have been incorrect in my analysis of your original statement, I'm sure you will let me know.

Posted by: The | September 28, 2006 04:03 PM

Peter, I, like many here seem to live in a 1776 'world'. The Constitution shall not be abridged even in time of war, as it is our guiding principle. If we let go of one portion, habeas corpus, when do we stop giving away our rights in the name of 'stopping the terrorists'?

If portions can be ignored, then the entire Constitution can be ignored.

Think about that.

Posted by: Robq | September 28, 2006 04:05 PM

Oooh, oooh, the sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Here . . . breathe into this paper bag for a minute or two.

Now, now, that's better, isn't it?

This group's collective case of the vapors hasn't prevented at least one of you handwringers from correctly noting that the law's (and it will become law) application to citizens and legal residents will indeed be limited by the courts.

Btw, whatever makes you think that contribution to a middle eastern charity isn't support for terrorism? Of course it is. So is buying gas at Citgo.

Posted by: Common Sense | September 28, 2006 04:05 PM

The sky IS falling.

For the first time in my entire life, I thought that it might be time to live in a different country than the one of my birth last night.

I've never in my life been so ashamed to be an American.

Posted by: J. Crozier | September 28, 2006 04:07 PM

I ONLY buy gas at Citgo. In support.

Posted by: Citgo | September 28, 2006 04:08 PM is more interested in a porn star running for governor, Charlie Sheen being the highest paid sitcom star (didn't know he was in one!) and a rabid squirrel than this issue.

The best way to win an argument in Washington is to complicate it and bore the hell out of everyone, then turn around and invent a soundbite.

Hastert really did say Democrats would coddle terrorists. At least the Repuglicans have nerve.

Posted by: Michael in CA | September 28, 2006 04:09 PM

I want to cry at the apathy of the public in the face of this great shame. Where is the voice of the people???

Posted by: seadreamer | September 28, 2006 04:09 PM

How can any of this be surprising after the de jure chief executive was appointed by his father's Supreme Court after losing an election whose results were obscured by a state apparatus administered by his brother? Was the constitution not scorned to place this group led by Dick Cheney in power?

It's all too upsetting to think about, but surprising? Hardly.

Posted by: Afraid | September 28, 2006 04:14 PM


Posted by: UGLY MUCARO | September 28, 2006 04:25 PM

Four versions of Newsweek available around the world. All three international issues feature a cover that proclaims "Losing the War in Iraq." The American issue features Annie Leibowitz on its cover. The press used to be able to get the American public moving on an issue. Now everyone from the Dems to the "free" press seems afraid to step on advertisers' toes. Many democrats were visibly depressed after the last presidential election. What's it going to take? Rioting in the streets?

Posted by: Dave | September 28, 2006 04:26 PM

Japanese internment. The Dred Scott decision. Now this. We are truly a savage and barbaric people. The only thing that changes is the calendar year.

Posted by: Steve | September 28, 2006 04:33 PM

Common Sense - Just because you choose the name does not make it so. You state the courts will limit the impact on citizens and legal residents. How so if the legislations prevents the courts, through the stripping of habeas corpus rights, from the courts. The legislation, as I understand it, allows court review only if the citizen or legal resident is prosecuted in court. Otherwise, the only hearing that applies is a military one that will determine, based on potential evidence derived from torture and hearsay, that the citizen or legal resident is an "enemy combatant," under a greatly expanded definition of that term. Then within a year, that ruling will be reexamined by another military board, based on the same evidence, and so on, and so on. The courts will never be involved. Is this a great country or what?

Posted by: captdave | September 28, 2006 04:43 PM

When in the course of human events...

Posted by: ring a bell? | September 28, 2006 04:51 PM


Section 6 of the Terrorism Act allowed the police to detain and interrogate anyone suspected of terrorism or of withholding information related to terrorism.

Terrorism Act of 1967
Allowed for indefinite detention without trial and established BOSS, the Bureau of State Security, which was responsible for the internal security of South Africa.

Posted by: IF NOT | September 28, 2006 04:55 PM

The Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967 (commenced 27 June) allowed the detention of an individual by a policeman of rank lieutenant-colonel or greater. Terrorism was very broadly defined in the Act and included most common criminal behaviour. People could be held indefinitely since the act allowed detention until all questions were satisfactorily answered or until no further useful purpose would be achieved by keeping the person in detention. Those held under the act were only permitted to be visited by a magistrate one every two weeks. No one else was allowed access (except the police and security services, of course).

Unlike the previous 90-day (General Law Amendment Act No 37 of 1963) and 180-day (Criminal Procedure Amendment Act No 96 of 1965) detention laws the public was not entitled to information about people held, including their identity - this meant that people could effectively 'disappear' for official legal reasons.

In order to cover those arrested for the Rivonia trial and for anti-Apartheid acts in both South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia) the Act was applied retroactively to 27 June 1962.

Repealed by the Internal Security and Intimidation Amendment Act 138 of 1991.

Posted by: NOT NOW | September 28, 2006 04:56 PM

"...Augustus won over the soldiers with gifts, the populace with cheap corn, and all men with the sweets of repose, and so grew greater by degrees, while he concentrated in himself the functions of the Senate, the magistrates, and the laws. He was wholly unopposed, for the boldest spirits had fallen in battle, or in the proscription, while the remaining nobles, the readier they were to be slaves, were raised the higher by wealth and promotion, so that, aggrandised by revolution, they preferred the safety of the present to the dangerous past. Nor did the provinces dislike that condition of affairs, for they distrusted the government of the Senate and the people, because of the rivalries between the leading men and the rapacity of the officials, while the protection of the laws was unavailing, as they were continually deranged by violence, intrigue, and finally by corruption."


Posted by: Brian | September 28, 2006 04:58 PM

The National Security Act increasingly was used after 1985 to suppress domestic dissent. Intended to restrict "antistate activities endangering the safety of the state and the lives and freedom of the citizenry," the act also was used to control and punish nonviolent domestic dissent. Its broad definition of offenses allowed enforcement over the widest range, wider than that of any other politically relevant law in South Korea. Along with other politically relevant laws such as the Social Safety Act and the Act Concerning Crimes Against the State, it weakened or removed procedural protection available to defendants in nonpolitical cases.

Questioning by the security services often involved not only psychological or physical abuse, but outright torture. The 1987 torture and death of Pak Chong-ch'ol, a student at Seoul National University being questioned as to the whereabouts of a classmate, played a decisive role in galvanizing public opposition to the government's repressive tactics.

The security services not only detained those accused of violating laws governing political dissent, but also put under various lesser forms of detention--including house arrest--those people, including opposition politicians, who they thought intended to violate the laws. Many political, religious, and other dissidents were subjected to surveillance by government agents. Opposition assembly members later charged in the National Assembly that telephone tapping and the interception of correspondence were prevalent. Ruling party assembly members, government officials, and senior military officials probably also were subjected to this interferencal though they did not openly complain.

Posted by: s kOREA | September 28, 2006 05:04 PM

The American people have really blown it now: 6 years after apathy elected the most criminal president in history, a significant chunk of citizens still don't see the danger to this country and our Constitution by our brainless puppet of a prez and his fascist handlers.

Dear Brainwashed Supporters of This Bill: What the hell do you think will happen to our own prisoners of war, at the hands of enemy regimes? Do ya think maybe the enemy won't feel the need to treat prisoners humanely, now that the spineless wimps in Congress have voted away ANY humane treatment of prisoners? Do any of you hysterical, brainwashed "patriots" care that we are creating a dictatorship, that the reactionary extremists have turned Congress into a rubber-stamping non-branch of government?

Seems like the biggest, tough-guy "patriots" are the biggest cowards, supporting President Liar no matter how changed the basic fabric of our country is, no matter how many lies "nuclear grade weaponry" George tells. Geez, can ANY of you think for yourselves?

I'll tell you this: they (the "patriots") don't deserve the democracy they seem unable to recognize they have.
They have no concept of country - their support is for gingoistic, bigotted political cheerleaders that they can get excited about. "Go George, GET those nasty homosexuals!" "We're so proud of George, turning off the fourth amendment." "We love our president, as ALL RIGHTEOUS AMERICANS SHOULD. Thanks for trying to destroy the middle class!" "Thanks, Cheney, for being the biggest corporate criminal ever on the public payroll." "My life sucks, and I love how George guts the environment! Get those tree-huggers! ". "Gee, George, thanks for letting us in on your private conversatins with a god that seems to approve of killing innocent civilians in a war started by nothing but lies. Go George! We'll stay behind you no matter how spineless we look!"

Meanwhile, real American wages are falling, the rich get richer, we waste BILLIONS on a useless civil war in Iraq, our own national intelligence says that Bush's war has made the threat of terroism GREATER, has increased the numbers of people who hate us, but hey! Who cares? At least George never admits he's wrong.

What's there to be proud of? Nothing. This country's turned to crap in 6 years, and we still hear the dittoheads praising Georgie Boy for a bill that lets this alcoholic arrest ANY AMERICAN *he* deems is an "enemy combatant," and hold that person with NO Constitutional civil liberties such as habeus corpus or, say, a fair trial.

I'd rather America was attacked once a year, then give up the civil liberties that make this country worth living in. The way many Americans seem to give in to the fear and terror sponsored by our own government makes me ashamed of them.

Stand up for your rights, before you no longer have any.

Any George Bush "patriot" is anti-Constitutional. I truly think another revolution may be in order. This "King George" is far more dangerous than "the III."

Posted by: Steve in Colorado | September 28, 2006 05:08 PM

"... and in 2008 when President Hillary Clinton ascended the throne of the American Presidency, she made full use of the powers granted to George Bush prior to the 2006 elections. By immediate decree, she directed the indefinite imprisonment in crude border camps of all members of American paramiltary groups, including the Minute Men, survivalist organization members, NRA members, and all other right-wing groups which had ever advocated use of violent means for their political ends. This led to 7 years of what was known as "The Clinton Calm," which was only broken in the 8th year of her reign by Canadian and Mexican gun-traffickers ..." Chronicles of the last days of Greater America, 2030.

Posted by: Cmdr Chronic | September 28, 2006 05:32 PM

Why Torture Works

As Congress moves slowly towards compromise on the detainee bill - which legalizes torture as a tactic under certain circumstances - there's one debate that talking heads and op-ed columnists keep returning to. I'm not likely to be dragged up to comment - I'm a teacher and an occasional theatre reviewer - but I think I'm more qualified than they are to answer the question. Does torturing suspected terrorists actually achieve desired results? The answer is yes, it does.

For the first time in my life, I feel in my gut that if it really wanted to, the U.S. government could arrest me without charge and imprison me without trial. And I have a President who feels things in his gut too. I may be mistaken technically - don't get me wrong, I'm not a legal scholar - but somehow, given the events of the last year or two, it's a possibility. I think my President would understand that better than any constitutional lawyer in the land.

It probably won't happen. In fact, I'm probably flattering myself whenever I tell myself that anyone in the world, much less the CIA, would want to read my emails. I work as a writing instructor, I don't really have any political power, beyond the occasional vote, I'm strictly mainstream. I'll probably live the rest of my life calmly, without interference from the government, and without the slightest indication that the government or anyone else cares that much about what I have to say.

But the seed has been sown. I can't help it. Call me paranoid, but given what I've heard as a layman - and most of it comes from the radio or television, or my peers, in bits and pieces - I don't really think I'd stand a chance against the combined might of the CIA and the executive branch, if they really thought I was planning or even consorting with expected terrorists.

I doubt that it'll make any difference, given the circles I move around in. And I doubt that things will get any worse - for everything they say about Americans, I'm convinced there's a basic denominator of decency which always raises its head when things get out of hand. In the past, say in the 50's, when political power-grabbers have bitten off more than they can chew, the electorate has stepped in and stopped them in their tracks. I'm convinced that this will happen again - in fact, maybe it is happening right now.
But something big is happening right now, and I'm not sure that any midterm or presidential election will change it. I don't remember ever before hearing an American president has come up and told Americans openly that he wants Congressional authorization to force detainees to talk using techniques that are prohibited in most readings of the Constitution. I understand that compromises have been made in the detainee bill; I understand that in some cases, torture will require authorization; but that's not the point. If the executive branch wants to find a way to get an American citizen - or any other, for that matter - to talk, it can do it.

I don't want to go into the details, and I think Bush would appreciate that. Details aren't what torture is about. In fact, it seems to me that torture is most effective when it's random, occasional, and slightly irrational. I've seen it trumpeted across the headlines that the American government - again, forget the details, I'm not a lawyer - sent a Canadian citizen to Syria, where that citizen, of Arab descent, spent a year in a coffin-sized cell, without knowing why or how he arrived there. That makes an impression. I imagine myself in that coffin, not knowing why or how I got there. It's a fair bet that it won't happen. But it could.

Don't put me on MSNBC to follow up on that. I'll leave that to the people who earn their pay arguing their cases. But then, I have a president who, from where I stand, doesn't pretend to be that conversant in details either. There, I think I understand detainee interrogation in the way he does. I've seen it in the movies and on television. Once a cop gets the suspect in the white room, whatever happens, the relationship between the two is changed forever.

The details of the Constitution aren't the point - to most of us, they've become silly putty in the hands of qualified professionals. The information received isn't the point - it's classified and inaccessible. The message Bush is sending to me, as an ordinary American, goes beyond the details. I hear it loud and clear.

John Barry is a freelance writer and teacher.

Posted by: jrb | September 28, 2006 06:04 PM

"Fear is the most debilitating of all human emotions. A fearful person will do anything, say anything, accept anything, reject anything, if it makes him feel more secure for his own, his family's or his country's security and safety, whether it actually accomplishes it or not....
"It works like a charm. A fearful people are the easiest to govern. Their freedom and liberty can be taken away, and they can be convinced to believe that it was done for their own good - to give them security. They can be convinced to give up their liberty - voluntarily." --Gene E. Franchini, retired Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, 12 September 2003

Posted by: Brian | September 28, 2006 06:27 PM

Then it comes to this. We're in the 11th hour, there are only two likely outcomes of the November elections.

1) The Republicans win, and the US ceases to be a functioning democracy, and will officially end up a Christian Republic. Religion becomes a core element of social and diplomatic policy, and the Bill of Rights will undergo a major shift in balance, particularly the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Ammendments. These rights stand a reasonable chance of being utterly disemboweled by subsequent expansion of Executive power.

2) The Democrats carry the day, and likely the Constitution stands a fair chance of recovery, but the damage done will be years in undoing. Its likely that the hardships the US will face in the interceding years will result in a chaotic flip flop of administrations until the situation, both domestically, and globally, stabilizes, either through ingenious leadership not yet apparent, or through the simple expenditure of whatever measure of hate against us has worn itself out.

Either way, the days of the US superpower are tightly numbered. We're going down, no matter who wins.

Posted by: James Buchanan | September 28, 2006 06:30 PM

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
- Mark Twain, a Biography

Posted by: Brian | September 28, 2006 06:33 PM

Article I Section 9

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Posted by: Brian | September 28, 2006 06:46 PM

"All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waiver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes."

Posted by: Brian | September 28, 2006 06:50 PM

You know... we really should be the ones to vote on matters like these. I do not understand why these the CONgress gets to make decisions that assertain all of us, and all of our freedom. The idea is that we may not understand all of the complex rhetoric consistant in these matters, however, I do not think that we should allow a group of people whose entry into the Capitol Building by means of ballots and all of this zoning can be any good either.

I call for an official announcement and full explanation of all factoring measures and a full read through, and EVERY MINUTE DETAIL explained, behind the Bill through all mediums available to the public by all interested Senators, those that have had a part in the behind-the-scenes parties, and people whom have concerns about what needs to pass. In a month, the public goes to the booths ---armed with the facts from both sides. None of this "they" stuff. "They" is not a true Republic, and we are the only ones that can truly represent ourselves.

We need ourselves to make decisions--- not all of this partisan riff-raff making the decision-making for us.

As for Congress not having an excuse "this time"?!? They do not have an excuse the last time!!! The moment that Bush uttered "Saddam did not have ties with al Qaeda" (eradicating a major element that the Bush administration used to enter Iraq) this Congress should-of put the breaks on a full screeching stop. There was no push to do that. Instead, they gave Bush CLEMENCY to go on with the war! So... this Congress is nothing except the one that starts the party. The right wing's little extravaganza that is proving to be nothing but a tailspin for our deteriorating rights.

I think I have more.

I do not like that whole "They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity..." deal. What is wrong with giving money for children that are in third world nations? They are just as in need of help just as much as any other third world child. By making philanthropists terrorists... that is keeping America safe? No. That perpetuates the waterwheel of terrorist propogandists that use poverty as an advantage in gaining the next generation
of Jihadists. One way of stopping terrorism is by stopping poverty. Make the Middle Eastern charities more efficiant rather than detaining the good.

Yeah, this is totally backwards. We are making it harder on ourselves for a threat that is not nearly as grave as the right wingers think. My goodness--- the people we are fighting are in mountains and desserts!!! What is there to be affraid of? The illusion that they are over here? No. I am wrong. It is now the illusion that they are us. Who are they!?!?


Posted by: Oh, to have a Blog (or a Nation at this point) | September 28, 2006 07:02 PM

without pausing to offer some insights to the poor time starved, former middle class now service sector employee working two jobs to make ends meet if he or she can find a job..........

now that their computer job is in Bangalore, in response to another poster on another WashPO site I said

a biased media is not what I complained about, that was just one thing........

when the whitehouse jams phone lines in new hampshire, it's got nothing to do with a biased is corruption.

when duke cunninghams seat is up for reelection because he's in the cooler, the republicans spend 15 times more than they've ever spent in that district to elect a republican, and the president and vice president tape messages for phone voicemail's got nothing to do with a biased has to do with keeping the elite in power, and doing anything in order to do that

when soundbite mentality is used so effectively that "most Americans," think that we've been attacked by's not a fricking mistake and has nothing to do with the people being has to do with controlling the population, to milk them........of their lives, money and that the Executive Branch and Complicit Congress get to join the Billionaires club, while Katrina Victims can't even find a way to make their lives restart......

it's called media control, by whatever means.......putting the Exexcutive Branches spin on things as the truth....

homophobia, demagoguery, jingoism
a few of their favorite tools, maybe Chertoff/Negroponte too? No oversight, when your cronies are in charge of HONDURAS and NEGROPONTE IF YOU WANT TO FIND THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD TERRORIST in Central America.

the standard of the neo conartiste', when challenged,
is the retreat into "appeal to emotion," as the primary theme of reelection campaigns....positive emotions: mom, patriotism, or negative emotions: homos, negrahs, liberahs, or pan_sayz....any thing said with liver lipped derision.

because the propagandists' have created a

dumbed down electorate with their, use of the "soundbite," to produce a tailored result...pavlovian in simplicity

the baldfaced use of soundites to disinform, by implication...for instance using Iraq/Terrorists/WTC in one sentence, angers me........

why would anyone want to create a more disinformed population?

why did they keep slaves from learning to read and write.......control.

you keeps blaming it on the people....the people that have been driven to taking jobs in the service sector by the corporates voraciousness for outsourcing, originally limited to blue collar workers, now transforming white collar jobs.........

competing with Bangalore for your "inside the beltway dollars,"

good f o c k i n g luck traitors........

you're sitting in the middle of it and you just say,
"thank gawd it's the jews and not me,"

Who owns FOX? Rupert Murdoch? Who was prevented from acquiring majority ownership in several large United States Media Corporations about five years ago..........the same rupert...he wants to control _your_ news.........and who does he love? the neo conartiste'

CNN, used to sort of be an unpredjudiced source of information......

But YOU KNOW the Executive Branch buried Kerry's campaign last election year

by flooding the News Market with "bogus war" stories.......most of them pre packaged....ready for playing DVD's with bombs going off and cars exploding, just like on Television........zoom bam wowwwieeeeeeeeee

and the DA's at Media central did their patriotic doooooooooooootie........

are they doing it again? are they being played by a smarter Executive Branch and Complicit Congress that wrote the rules on how to control spin and make s h i t look like shinola

for the ordinary citizen?

yes, and you sayz "it's all the peoples' fault!," for not being as sophistacated as the doctors of PSY OPS that they employ to trash your brain cells with


here's what WashPo Weisman sayz in response to a question posted to him today on line....

this from Wiesman Friday, 22, 2006 Politics Discussion online
Washington, D.C.:

Is there really such a thing as the Democratic Party? I ask because, despite two weeks of Republican war on terrorism talk slowly lifting Republican polling numbers, there has been no Democratic nationalized coherent response. Why can't the Democrats, with only seven weeks to go before the most critical midterm election in a long time, not speaking out about anything: Iraq, global warming, wages, etc.?

Jonathan Weisman:
On this one, I must say the media is partly at fault. Congressional Democrats have been holding near daily press conferences on their agenda and their response to Republicans. But in the hullabaloo over dissent within Republican ranks, the Dems have been shut out of the news. Little wonder that you think they have been silent.

and there's nothing you can do about it.

remember, there is no connection between Iraq and the WTC.

and why are we there fighting a ?war?

2nd Largest OIL RESERVES IN THE FRICKING WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: when media repeats something verbatim, | September 28, 2006 07:41 PM

you are a disinformationist.

The United States is the terrorists here.

Wanta talk about it? I'll toast your peanuts.....okay...come out of the closet paid disinformationist boy. Let's see how clever you are.


Posted by: Hey DAn | September 28, 2006 07:45 PM

This is about John Negroponte

google wolfowitz, negroponte, walker, bush, goss, yale for a laugh

begin quote

Until the word became unfashionable in the West, Iraq would have been called a colony. The equivalent of the colonial office, the US embassy in Baghdad, will be the biggest embassy in the world and will be headed by John Negroponte, a veteran neo-conservative of the Reagan administration.

Negroponte's specialty, while ambassador to Honduras under Reagan (1981-1985) was to ensure that any resistance to US hegemony in Nicaragua would be utterly crushed. The ambassador carried out his duties with considerable success. A brief look at Negroponte's Central American period gives us a hint at what bodes for US-run Iraq.

When the Sandinista revolution took power in Nicaragua in 1979, alarm bells rang in Washington. Somoza, the brutal US-backed dictator, had been overthrown by revolutionary forces after 43 years in power. US hegemony in Nicaragua, and thus in Central America was under serious threat. Washington's paranoia about Cuba and Bolshevism had thus spread to Central America - any challenge to the US system of control was treated with absolute contempt, as Nicaraguans were to learn right throughout the 1980s. Indeed, any government in Latin America that refused to give in to US domination, regardless of its policies, was decried as Communist - a label which provoked the most vitriolic condemnation in Washington throughout the Cold War.

In 1980 Jimmy Carter put pressure on the Honduran government to act as a "bulwark against Communism" against the Sandinista government. With Somoza gone the US had no internal grip inside Nicaragua and would thus have to control much of its anti-Sandinista operations from outside the country's borders. Some 5000 members of Somoza's hated brutal National Guard fled Nicaragua to Honduras when the Sandinistas took power. It was in consequence that Honduras became the training ground and launching pad for the US-funded Contra war against Nicaragua.

During the Reagan administration, and while Negroponte was ambassador to the country, "Contra" militias were trained in Honduras. The Contras had hitherto made relatively small attacks across the border into Nicaragua until in 1982 thousands of marines arrived with up to 200 military advisers - airstrips were built, arms supplied and radar stations erected, all courtesy of the US taxpayer.

The Contras were trained in some of the most gruesome guerrilla war techniques. Some were trained by military officers from Argentina's dirty war who knew nothing about the jungle but plenty about torture and execution. Others were trained in Florida and California while many others, like Honduras' military dictator, General Gustavo Alvarez Martínez, were educated in torture techniques, execution and combat at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. While it was purported by Reagan that the Contras were fighting the evil scourge of communism, referring to them as "freedom fighters," the Contras raped, tortured and terrorised the civilian population throughout the subsequent decade, leaving the destroying the civilian infrastructure, leaving tens of thousands dead and many more displaced.

Negroponte's role in Honduras was crucial as it meant maintaining US dominance in the region. Jeane Kirkpatrick, Negroponte's predecessor at the UN once declared that "Central America is the most important place in the world for the United States today." Maintaining political control of the region meant controlling its vast and rich natural resources. The Sandinistas were beginning to take matters into their own hands and started to redistribute wealth and land in Nicaragua, thus threatening US dominance in the region. Panic in the Reagan administration reached feverish and sometimes surreal levels, with the president declaring that the Sandinistas were on the verge of invading the United States. The real cause for alarm among Reaganite neo-conservatives (including the virulent anti-communist Negroponte) was that the Sandinista revolution would spread throughout El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. It had nothing to do with communism, just as the invasion of Iraq has nothing to do with preventing terrorism. More, it was that the economic system the US had maintained in Central America since 1945 was falling apart - it was simply untenable for the impoverished masses who barely had enough to eat. Washington's solution, like its present incarnation in the Middle East, was one of force and overwhelming military power in order to maintain US hegemony. Just as Negroponte acted as the strong arm of US imperialism in Central America in the 1980s he will protect US business and political interests in the Middle East, now the "most important place in the world for the United States today."

While the country was used as the launching ground for the war against Nicaragua, US aid to Honduras increased from 5 to almost $100 million with $200 million given in economic aid. Honduras now received more aid than anywhere else in the region, most of the money ultimately being controlled by the military.

Jack Binns, Negroponte's predecessor as ambassador appointed by Jimmy Carter, complained about the blatant human rights abuses in Honduras and briefed him as he took office. He later reported that Salvadoran nuns who fled to Honduras after the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero had been tortured by the Honduran secret police and thrown out of helicopters alive - a speciality of the Argentine military officers employed in Honduras during Negroponte's stint. One official, Rick Chidester, claims Negroponte ordered him to remove all mention of torture and execution from his report on human rights in Honduras.

During Negroponte's stay in Honduras, human rights violations peaked. The infamous US trained death squad, Batallion 3-16, was notorious for the torture, rape, kidnapping and killing of Honduran dissidents. Hundreds of people disappeared. By the end of the 1980s at least 10,000 were dead, not to mention the conservative estimate of 200,000 deaths in Central America as a result of US intervention. Negroponte, however, claims no knowledge of the human rights abuses the US carried out and funded despite being ambassador at the time. He told CNN, "I think on balance if you look back at what we did, I think a good case can be made that there was actually less suffering in Central America as a result of the actions the United States took than there would have been if we had just folded our arms and done nothing."

Many other Honduran victims of the US led war in Central America ended up at the El Aguacate airstrip, whose creation was supervised by Negroponte, and where dissidents were detained and tortured - 185 corpses were dug up there in 2001.

When George W. Bush appointed Negroponte as US ambassador to the UN, members of Honduran death squads who had previously been granted asylum in the US were deported. It was feared they testify about Negroponte's role in human rights abuses while ambassador to Honduras.

Interestingly, none of this came up in the US and British mainstream media when career journalists heaped praise on Reagan shortly after his death. Somehow, amidst the fawning in mainstream and elite circles it was forgotten that the Reagan administration carried out in Central America one of the worst campaigns of state terrorism of the late 20th century. All of this in the context of the present situation in Iraq - one might expect that the media would pick up on the fact that many of the present incumbents in Washington are those who were responsible for the terror in Central America in the 1980s. John Negroponte's appointment as ambassador, as if it was not clear enough by now, tells something about what Bush et al have in store for Iraq.

What should we expect now that the US has handed "sovereignty" back to Iraqis? What kind of sovereignty is it? Will it be more sovereign than Honduras, which was effectively controlled by the CIA and the US military?

Of course, it is nothing like sovereignty. Some 250,000 occupation soldiers will stay in the country long after the US has left. Not having allowed any free elections, the US has installed a puppet government that will receive orders from Washington. Should the new government fail to do so, it can expect to be overthrown either by US backed coup organised from the US embassy or outright invasion (again). Iraqi sovereignty does not even allow the courts to prosecute foreign civilians or contractors or mercenaries should they commit a crime. Any mercenary guilty of killing an Iraqi is immune from legal prosecution. The new government has no control of the quarter of a million soldiers that will continue to occupy the country and intimidate the civilian population. The American government will determine how the budget of $18 billion for reconstruction is spent. Iraq's natural resources will be handed over to mostly American private companies - control of oil reserves the most obvious example. Moreover, the Bush administration has ensured that Iraq's public services should be milked for profit for US corporations who will now control much of the country's infrastructure. So much for "sovereignty."

We might consider the reaction of people in the US if a foreign power invaded, killed thousands of civilians, destroyed the country's infrastructure after a ten year bombing campaign and sanctions that left up to a million dead, denied Americans the right to vote while making lofty claims about freedom and democracy, shot people protesting the invasion, shot carloads of people at checkpoints and condemned present and future generations to all kinds of disease and illness and maiming as a result of exposure to depleted uranium and contact with unexploded cluster bombs. How would Americans react when the foreign power supposedly left the country, leaving hundreds of thousands of soldiers and mercenaries in the US, all immune from prosecution in American courts after appointing a puppet government that took its orders from the foreign capital and having given American natural resources and public services over to foreign companies. How would Americans react to being denied the right to vote when the leaders of the occupying power strutted about making asserting this was a victory for democracy?

The anger and outrage Americans would feel is now felt by Iraqis. Resistance to the US occupying forces will increase, and eventually, like all imperial powers, the Americans will be forced to leave - because of the scale of the resistance and because of the chaos wreaked by the occupying forces. Yet before that happens we are likely to see a great deal of violence. The US will attempt to crush all kinds of resistance to their power, which is only likely to become more organized and apparent.

Interestingly, none of this came up in the mainstream media when career journalists heaped praise on Reagan shortly after his death. Somehow, amongst the fawning and whining in mainstream and elite circles it was forgotten that the Reagan administration carried out in Central America one of the worst campaigns of state terrorism of the late 20th century. All of this in the context of the present situation in Iraq - one might expect that the media would pick up on the fact that many of the present incumbents in Washington are those who were responsible for the terror in Central America in the 1980s. John Negroponte's appointment as ambassador, as if it was not clear enough by now, tells something of what Bush et al have in store for Iraq.

end quote

Posted by: this guy makes up stories for the bush family, and he is your dierectror of intelligence..... | September 28, 2006 07:51 PM

you want the United States not to go down?

then arrest the Executive Branch and Complicit Congress, and get back to work as Americans.

1. cease outsourcing.
2. require telecommuting.
3. define standards of gasoline consumption as an National Security Imperative......

and so on...

take about 6 weeks.....if I had to do it, and I could do it, it is about National Security.


Posted by: mr Buchanan, hello | September 28, 2006 08:05 PM

is that you want to set the tone....

you might also _require_ that elected officals be _clearable_

why have people passing laws that can not uphold them.........

vis a vis monkey boy and his dads cronies..........

pull them up like weeds, throw them on the sidewalk, so they dry up and do not grow back.........pull them up by the roots......

send _their_ jobs to Bangalore, put a black mark on their resume, let them work at Wal fricking Mart..........

verily sirrah!

imprison them, liquidate their estates.....refresh the General Fund with _their_ monies....

send _their_ kids to fight your battles...huzzah!

Posted by: ps. the reason that you arrest, try and convict the Executive Branch and Complicit Congress | September 28, 2006 08:30 PM

Is this not the administration that considers citizens and journalists that disagree with their policies to be "aiding and abetting the terrorists"? Will they now become detainees who "disappear"? I would consider this to be a paranoid and ourageous thought but for the fact that I previously would have thought the same about the possibility that a President of the United States would have sought, and that Congress would pass, the incredibly un-american legislation that it did today. Absolutely stunning; how did we get to this point?

Posted by: william moore | September 28, 2006 08:36 PM

Pray for John Paul Steven's health. The(non-Federalist Society)judiciary is the last line of defense.

Posted by: ef | September 28, 2006 08:56 PM

This used to be a very special country. It was a country looked up to by other countries.

Now, we're just another despot third rate country.

I have never been so saddened over the fall of my beloved country as I am now.

Posted by: Kevin | September 28, 2006 08:57 PM

It is shameful that the Washington Post give a forum for a jackanape who touts the "Administration deceived us" line. Such blatant historical revisionism/willful blindness has no place in the pages of a real newspaper.

And Kevin, just wait until November 2008! Then, when Bush declares martial law and names himself First Prefect of the New America, you can tell everyone "I told you so!"

Posted by: | September 28, 2006 09:25 PM

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. ~Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: Racine | September 28, 2006 09:35 PM

I don't know how many posts I had to scroll through between Anon at 9:25 and Common Sense, but boy, are you all scary. This is the "reality-based community"? You all live in your own reality.

I'll be happy to welcome you back to the real world when you regain your senses. Though I suppose that won't be until the President is out of office. Keep the faith, though--that will happen. Because the President is a defender of the Constitution, and that's what the Constitution mandates.

Posted by: | September 28, 2006 09:52 PM

Start small, send a message. Vote them all out. No incumbent survives this election.

I don't care anymore for their words, they have no heart, no courage, they stand for nothing but getting re-elected. Lie down with dogs...

Posted by: steve | September 28, 2006 10:39 PM

This is dark day in the history of the United States. We have a Republican-led Congress that indulges every whim of an incompetent and I dare say, criminal President and Administration.

Historians - maybe not American historians because those who do not agree with this Administration maybe seized as enemy combatants - will look on this day as confirmation that the US has lost it's soul. That the goodness of American was handed over by it's public out of fear and exploited by those who would use that fear to seize further power. Maybe absolute power, because once you've provided the executive with this kind of power, you've provided the opportunity for a dictatorship. Make no mistake, this begins the march to giving the President the level of power that Saddam Hussain had to control his citizenry.

To expand on a earlier point, the power has been handed-over. The President and the Republican-led Congress didn't get there by accident. They didn't seize power in a coup. They were voted into office. People voted for these members of Congress, for this President.

To those of you who don't like what's going on and who didn't vote, Shame On You! For those of you who think your vote doesn't count, think about this ... someone voted and they voted this rabble of Republicans into office.

An election is coming ... so don't just gripe, vote. I think we have one chance, one chance only to stop the Republican Party from completely seizing power and that's this coming election. So, please at the very least, for the love of what's right, for the love of the rights that we used to have, for the country we thought we'd always have, vote. Get your friends to vote. Don't sit there on election day. You have no excuse - none what so ever not to vote.

Posted by: InChicago | September 28, 2006 10:56 PM

This is a terrific piece of legislation. At last we have the tools to deal effectively with the terrorists and the traitors here at home who aid and abet them! I pray that President Bush, one of the greatest Presidents in our history due to his heroic leadership in this War on Terror, will move swiftly to deal with the scumbag traitors who are deliberatly undermining the war effort. Back in the good old days, we use to call people who undermined the war effort "TRAITORS" and lock them up. Let us return to that time and CRUSH THE TRAITORS!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!

Posted by: Patriot | September 28, 2006 11:07 PM

looks like someone already toasted your peanuts........

it's always the little nuts that try to act like they have big ones.....

I would guess that you would be arresting the president, and his staff for treason right?

we all know, the terrorist threat is a childish ploy, CIA trained Al QUearadas in take out the Talibanis and queer their deal with the tune of 13 Trillion Dollars.....Bridas and Unocal are the names of the litigants in that it.

as they are the terrorists, and created the scam in order to scam the United States Citizens of more money, children and more of their inheritance........

heck them disinformationists are even calling the Estate Tax, the "Death Tax," talk about pernicious reasoning.........the only people the "Death Tax," really affects are very wealthy is a simple

"appeal to emotion," the normal low IQ ploy that this administration and their bootlickers routinely employ........

like patriot, you can lick my boots, after you pull them out of your hind you get a taste of your own doodee.


Posted by: hey patriot | September 28, 2006 11:58 PM

you can't even kiss my bboots.....

Posted by: let's face it false patriot | September 29, 2006 12:01 AM

It is truly a sad day for my country. Unfortunately, I feel that the comments made by "Patriot" make it even sadder. I am too disappointed and depressed to elaborate.

Posted by: A Saddened American Veteran | September 29, 2006 12:07 AM

Shameful, shameful. The only way we can regain moral status in the world is by criminal action against our leaders. Impeachment is a start.

Posted by: DD | September 29, 2006 01:02 AM

THE (coward to fearful to state their name)
You are correct that I will correct your incorrect statements some may identify as dribble.

You took the time to retort but added NOTHING to the coversation; take notes if necessary. You seem to miss quite a bit and answered nothing

Therefore let us examine YOUR inane response, why don't we?
(1) You "loathe the ignorant American poeple [sic]?" You loathe those with whom you disagree? That does not seem reasonable to me.

BZZZZ. WRONG I was correct in my opinion, not even truly up for your refuting. I do brieve and loathe ignorant(uneducated) Americans like you. Too lazy to vote too ignorant to educate themselves about local and national politics regardless of party or if they agree with me. Still with me skippy? I know it may strain your intellectual abilities since you read so much incorrectly into my irrefutable position. Shall we continue?

(2) GWB is a "psychophant?" Well, I had never seen that word before so I looked it up and, skippy, I was right! That's not a word.

Well well we have a anal retentative responder. Thank you for finding my typo for sycophant. Any simpleton knew what I stated. Clearly talking over your head. Go look that up and come back. Anyone with a High Scool education knows that. Funny also you could not disagree with the position. Still with me skippy?

(3) GWB has been "nothing but wrong?" He has not done one thing right? Ever? In his life? Again, unreasonable and unhelpful argument.

poor poor simpleton, what a childish pathetic attempt to deflect the truth that as a President he has done NOTHING right. please provide examples to refute....I will wait.

Now, THE (coward to post your name), I have shown that your completely incorrect. If you are going to take the time to respond do so by advocating your support for torture, suspension of Habeaus Corpus, approval of rendition programs warrantless wiretapping. Otherwise your wating our time. Funny of all the responses you took exception to respond to mine. i clearly struck a cord with you as your a passive complicit guilty party to this illegal regime. BTW, when did your last moral fiber die?

Posted by: Dan | September 29, 2006 01:41 AM

I was intended on applying for a green card in October. Not anymore.

Would it be possible for the world to place a trade embargo on the US. Say specifically on Oil and Food? I understand US civilians would suffer.. but maybe that is what is required to get them to force this president to resign.

Posted by: Craig | September 29, 2006 03:32 AM

".. The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States."

I just read the Senate version which is being sent to the House for approval, and I didn't see anything to that effect any where. To the contrary, it states quite clearly that it only applies to ALIEN unlawful combatants, then clearly defines alien as "someone who is NOT a U.S. citizen"."

"And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights."

THREE TIMES the bill states that alien unlawful combatants, the only people covered by the bill, are afforded 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendment protections in spite of the fact that they are not citizens.

A person brought before a military commission is not given a trial by their peers (other terrorists? citizens of another country?), but is afforded many of the normal protections granted in a U.S. criminal trial. Minimum commission sizes are required, and both the size and the majority vote required is larger in a death penalty case.

"This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison."

WRONG. The bill specifically states that it does NOT apply to citizens. (Did you READ it?)

"Scary enough for you? But wait, there is more. The legislation also appears to allow illegally-obtained evidence-- from overseas or right here at home-- to be used against enemy combatants (which gives you an idea of where this Congress really stands on the National Security Agency's domestic spying program)."

The bill states that evidence acquired overseas does not require a warrant. Does that make it "illegally obtained"? Hardly. How would we apply our warrant laws in another country? Are Federal Marshalls going to travel to Afghanistan and serve search warrants?

There are numerous rules regarding evidence in the bill to insure that only well supported, reasonable evidence is submitted, and to insure that defense has every opportunity to review and counter it.

Oh, and it appears that for evidence obtained in the U.S. a warrant is required even though this bill is about ALIEN unlawful combatants. Amazing! Far from gutting the Bill of Rights, this bill applies at least parts of it to people who are not citizens and have engaged in illegal combat as defined by international law!


(Note that it's the Senate version that's going to be voted on by the House on Friday, then sent to the White House.)

Posted by: Dan | September 29, 2006 04:14 AM

When he Nazis threw the communists in jail shortly after coming to power in 1933, I did not protest. After all, I was no communist. When they outlawed all parties except their own, I did not protest. After all, I had never associated with political parties. When gypsies, homosexuals, anyone opposing the Nazi regime and jews were buried in concentration camps, I kept silent. After all, I did not belong to any of these groups.

When finally, the Nazis went after the protestant clergy and I, a former decorated submarine commander who had become a minister after the war, found myself in the same concentration camp, there was nobody left to protest.
Martin Niemöller.

As an exchange student at Hamilton College more than fifty years ago, I took a course in American constitutional law. Having grow up in Nazi Germany, I was deeply impressed. My hope after having read Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: the detainee legislation will not survive a challenge in your courts.

Posted by: Hermann Hagena | September 29, 2006 04:58 AM

Don't worry about this. They will only go after the guilty. Our rights aren't being...
wait a sec. I'll be right back. Someone's at the door.

Posted by: Ramler American | September 29, 2006 05:57 AM

Look on the bright side, at least gays can't marry. (yes, that was sarcasm)

Posted by: eShirl | September 29, 2006 06:43 AM

Why not go back to the root of the problem? The American people are so apathetic about LIBERTY and DEMOCRACY that you allowed Bush to get away with corrupting the results of the election that got him into the White House. Now you have a power-hungry despot gorging himself on power. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I am aghast at what is happening in the USA and elsewhere. Liars and sycophants in politics use words like truth and freedom and democracy and as long as they can give a decent "sound bite" for the news bulletin, they are smugly confident that their words will become a new Truth in the minds of the apathetic masses, whom they feed with distractions to divert their attention from what they are really planning in their hearts, which is rotten, deceitful and despicable: the domination of their fellow human beings who share this earth with them (Americans and "aliens" alike).

Equality? America is supposed to be founded on it. But when you start believing (or apathetically accepting) that one law applies to "us" and another law applies to "them", and that therefore you can do whatever you want to "them" without sin, then you are on a very slippery slope indeed, heading for moral bankruptcy at high speed. There are names for regimes which have operated like this.. names like communism, nazism, apartheid. Not very pretty, are they? But maybe you don't care. Well, not until it affects you personally when, in a few years time government officials require you to be microchipped, RFID tagged, have your social security number tattooed on your forearm, and complete a form listing all your personal opionions for assessment of their "suitability". But don't think you'll be able to object.. because by then, "no" won't be an acceptable answer.

Truth, Justice, ..and the American Way. Is this now an oxymoron?

How is the story going to continue, silent ones? Remember: "For evil to triumph it is enough only that good men do nothing".

Posted by: Sharpsight | September 29, 2006 06:59 AM

I have not and never will go to this country, the USA.

How can Americans say they live in a democracy or dare lecture others about democracy when they have effectively a 1 party system (just like the Nazis created in Germany in the '30s as some people have mentioned above). The democrates fail to protest about what the current govenment is getting away with. And now if ordinary US citizens complain they can be branded "terrorists", put away without trial and tortured. 1984 anybody? How is this much better than the sort of regime Saddam Hussein had in Iraq?

It would appear that the USA is one step closer to a totalitarian dictatorship.

Posted by: Paul | September 29, 2006 07:00 AM

Hopefully the courts will be able to intervene even though the legislation attempts to circumvent that. One cannot overturn a portion of the Constitution by legislation, only through an amendment can habeus corpus be suspended (outside of the two provisions already made in the Constitution for doing so). Unfortunately, it's going to take some time for this to resolve itself.

Posted by: Mark | September 29, 2006 07:30 AM

Someone needs to call them what they are COWARDS. My question is what does Bush have over them?

Posted by: midnitemoleman | September 29, 2006 07:38 AM

should really be: The U.S. Nuremberg Laws; because they give the right to the Executive to single-handedly determine who has legal protection and who is not worthy of that right. It allows the Executive to do ANYTHING to those it does not consider worthy of legal protection, ANYTHING AT ALL, INCLUDING MURDER. Why do I say that? Because without transparency and the ability to challenge the executive in court, who would know?

So: What's the difference between the U.S. and the petty Latin-American dictatorships of the 70s and 80s? What's the difference between the U.S. and Iran? between the U.S. and North Korea? between the U.S. and Kazakhstan?

Posted by: The real name of this act | September 29, 2006 08:01 AM

If the passage of this act shows anything it is that Bush alone is not responsible for the disaster we have witnessed in the last six years. Nor is it just the Bush administration that is the problem.

The Republican Senate and the Republican House are equally responsible for all that has happened. They have failed to live up to their responsibilities to conduct oversight of the executive and instead have acted as ... choose your own metaphore here "cheering section" or "rubber stamp" ... for the executive.

In a bit more than one month we have an opportunity to change the nature of the Senate and of the House, but I am not sure we will. There are several things that can get in the way and cause us to continue with the disasterous status quo.

First, there is the problem of progressives who think that Democrats are as bad as Republicans and so they choose to vote for Greens or maybe not vote. The result is the same - continued Republican one-party rule.

Second there is the problem of progressives who think that while the Republicans generally are awful, well,... my Republican Senator is really pretty good and will get my vote. Let me say, it does not matter how good your Republican Senator or Representative might be if the first vote they cast is for continued Republican leadership.

Third, there are the voting machines. Try not let them steal your vote, but don't let this worry keep you from voting.

Posted by: TruthHurts | September 29, 2006 08:08 AM

Like the author of an earlier post, I have lately found myself thinking about what other country might be better to live in than the fascist Christian dictatorship that America is obviously becoming. A google search for the phrase "least religious country" (a description of the type of place I would prefer) gives confusing results: the first page of results alone identifies Sweden, Norway, Britain, and the Czech Republic as the least religious country. I would have thought it was the Netherlands!

Hmm, those places sound far away, and I'm not sure they all speak English in those places. Maybe the key is to find a religion-free enclave in America. A Google search for "least religious state" is less ambiguous: apparently, it's Oregon. At one site, the University of Oregon is characterized as being in the least religious county in the least religious state.

It's just a fantasy, really, but at least I have an idea of somewhere to go when the Christian fanaticism here in Ohio becomes too much to bear.

Posted by: mwb970 | September 29, 2006 08:30 AM

America died last night, and when President Bush signs this bill into law, it will be buried.

Either the GOP Congresscritters have collectively lost their minds and the Dems their spines, or, the CIA has poisoned the water supply inside the Bloatway. Nothing else can adequately explain this horrific attack on our constitution, our honor, our integrity and our future.

Just 6 years ago, the USA was still a beacon of hope, an example of high-minded ideals put into practice. Despite our warts and problems, the entire globe could look to us and say, "Let us aim as high."

Today, the world will look at us as a cancer, a danger, an uncivilized, bloodthirsty, torturing group of greedy war-mongers who care not one bit about some of the few civilized rules passed across the globe.

Posted by: pastor agnostic | September 29, 2006 08:47 AM

Goodbye, America. You will be missed...

Posted by: I Hates Me Some Bush | September 29, 2006 09:59 AM

Well SHEEP get of your A__ and vote in November. Wake up it started when they stole the election in 2000, you were all asleep. So your reaping what you sowed.

Posted by: dm | September 29, 2006 10:17 AM

So can we expect a correction of this patently false post? The Act clearly does not apply to trials of US citizens - see the definition of "aliens" as non-citizens and the language that it only applies to such "aliens."

Jesus, no wonder Bush ignores his critics. So many of them are willing to ignore reality to imagine a world where Bush is a Nazi bent on destroying the Constitution.

Jeezuz. If only we had a rational opposition.

Posted by: dbett | September 29, 2006 10:55 AM

The reincarnation of Adolf Hitler he be.

Posted by: A | September 29, 2006 12:12 PM

dbett --

If our lawmakers can retroactively excuse clear breaches of war crimes, they can retroactively deprive citizens of their rights by deeming them enemy combatants, aliens, or anything else.

Bend over and kiss your Constitution goodbye, sucka.

Posted by: mark1147 | September 29, 2006 12:13 PM

Edit: for "breaches" read "instances"

Posted by: mark1147 | September 29, 2006 12:14 PM

If this country isn't being ran as a dictatorship then Cuba is a democracy! Did you also know that the administration has ordered a "special envoy" to IRAQ to "review and approve" all news stories being released to the U.S. media? Maybe we should bring back public hangings, flogging, how about confiscating a persons home, belongings, etc., if they don't agree with you, aren't the correct religion, color, height, or doesn't meet Bush's judgment that their a "compassionate conservative" then you can put them in a concentration camp, oh I mean "hold them in a detainee camp" until they fess up, are waterbordered, frozen, starved, beaten, electructed, etc., or you feel like letting them go, or not! What a disgrace we are as a nation. The people supporting those in power have chosen to throw our constitution, and history our forefathers struggled and fought for to design a free and democratic society . What took them blood, sweat and many tears to make this country live by the rule of law has been sold out by a group of Neocrates who favor invasion, lies, distortion and corruption. Well by golly KING GEORGE RULES AGAIN. Whomever agrees with this ruling and this administration about their bloddy invasion of a country based on lies will bring upon the United States exactly what we have been exporting.
WE HAVE LOST OUR SOLE AS A NATION. But when you are being led by a group without a sole, who hide behind the bible and their own misdeeds you deserve whatever you get. Sad, Sad day to be and American. Grannysue

Posted by: Grannysue | September 29, 2006 12:20 PM


Thanks for the thoughtful response. Kinda proves my point.


Posted by: dbett | September 29, 2006 12:29 PM

Why the disgust now? The senate totally ignored the plea of people denied or cheated out their votes on a massive scale, for the last 6 years (2000,2002,2006) faren 9-11.

After the presidential elections of 2004. Kerry left town. Even after, i recall during his campaign, Kerry saying on several occasions, not an exact quote "he would have lawyers standing ready to fight back anyplace voting problems arose". It took the 3rd party candidate to file court papers in ohio.

How bad is it, when the senate, most of the house and the presidential candidate themselves, want do a thing to fight back. KERRY AND GORE WON THE ELECTION. WITHOUT REALLY TRYING HARD. Neither of them hit bush hard, even though they had many opportunities. John ; "We can do better than that" Kerry.

Why would the senate dems make a compromise, that effectively make it harder to filibuster. Why aren't they filibusting now?

How can bush get away with all these impeachable offenses?

They want be held accountable. But we, especially dissenter may end up labeled as "enemy combatants" and imprisoned.

Posted by: lugnut | September 29, 2006 01:05 PM

This is an evil hour in human history. We can pray that the Constitutional separation of powers will prevent disaster, but this bill sets up a Constitutional crisis, and the courts have no troops. We are at the mercy of the basic respect for law that each soldier and police officer carries within them, if Bush decides to defy the courts.

The bill has a profound affect on U.S. citizen's rights. From Nick Szabo (a lawyer and blogger on legal issues):

"(2) Subjects all persons, including all U.S. citizens, at the whim of the executive branch, to arbitrary detention, for indefinitely long periods of time, as "enemy combatants." Although U.S. citizens still have an appeal to normal courts via habeus corpus, the tendency of recent courts to defer to legislation over fundamental liberty rights disturbingly suggests a large free hand for the executive branch, regardless of the party of the President, here too."

We in the U.S. can fight this. It isn't a 'left' vs. 'right' issue, there are many conservatives who are waking up to the horror and speaking out, Bruce Fein for example. It is a tyranny vs. liberty issue, and Americans are (almost all of us, left and right), in favor of freedom.

We must all:
1. Register to vote
2. Remove the corruptive power of money, by passing Clean Money campaigns (prop 89 in California)
3. Eliminate black box voting, and put in place regular random audits of any electronic systems with a paper trail.

4. Make sure that all our citizens learn enough reasoning that they can identify and ignore the rhetoric of demagogues, so that this never, ever happens again. Those of you in free countries, this is the key failure of American democracy.

You can start with yourself: learn logic, and study rhetoric. "The Art of Deception" by Nicholas Capaldi is a good primer.

Lobby your school board to start teaching logic and rhetoric to all kids. A decent understanding of this stuff is the foundation of working democratic debate, and the lifeblood of a functioning democracy. It's something every citizen of a free nation needs to be a responsible voter.

If too many do not have it, the citizenry falls prey to demagogues, as the United States just has.

5. Wear a black armband. The fall of the American republic is worth mourning.

Posted by: Daulnay | September 29, 2006 01:15 PM

Why make laws? Why to legalize lawlessness, of course!

Why bother making laws when there will be no further need to remember to use civilized behavior! And don't forget the high schoolers who are learning this from their "betters".

It's getting harder for me to tell who's who these days...

Posted by: Disgusted by the Bush Administration and this Congress | September 29, 2006 04:40 PM


Posted by: | September 30, 2006 07:51 AM


Posted by: | September 30, 2006 07:52 AM

Aside from the administration and it's eternal backers, I have run across NO ONE who believes this to be a good thing. If the people of this country are against this, how can it be passed? Is this not a government 'of the the people...for the people'?

Does anyone know how we can be heard? How can we make a difference here, before it is too late? If - in order to stop this from being signed to law - we must show up at the Oval Office and drain all his pens of their ink, I'm in...

Posted by: Orwellian Hues Abound | October 2, 2006 06:17 PM

My dear children in WAPO AND Yeah, we think bill also not good! Impich Bush, the INFIDEL and SYAITAN! Amerikanos very angry so let's start war with Govt! and embrance Islam. OR ELSE I WILL BEHEAD ALL OF YOU! Remember!I love you one,I love you all!

Osama & Al-Queda

Posted by: H. Lee | October 3, 2006 06:31 PM

they were lentils or something inedible like that? what a bunch of stale crackers.

and you Pat Robertson, pretending to be H.Lee, I've got your sister and I'm feeding her some real he man food...the kind you like, Crawferd Salaami, and she's a eating it.

Posted by: geez could the presidents backers be any more strongly ignorant if | October 4, 2006 07:26 PM

Perhaps its time to Purge Congress.

Check this:

Posted by: cmunit | October 11, 2006 06:00 PM

Maybe if the Government had done this prior to 9/11, then the horror that took place on that day might not have happened! Judging by the comments in this blog which represent a large majority of this country, we have turned into a country of "milk toasts" who cry injustice when the law serves to prosecute WRONG DOERS simply because their " POOR IMMIGRANTS" or they're "sympasizers" of a nation that repeatedly attacks us from within!
YES,, I believe if somebody in this country is consorting with "Terrorists", contributing to charities that will fund Terrorists, or any other act that sympathises with these ANIMALS,, then they should have NO RIGHTS! Quit whinning about losing Constitutional rights in this country. Look around you,, have any of you moaned and complained about the onslaught of Immigrants that keep flowing into this country collecting our Social Security benefits,, free medicare,, free Grant money to buy business's, homes, cars, etc.?? How about the fact that we're losing our right to "English" as our national language?! So then why are you moaning and whinning about locking up citizens in this country who are supporting foreign attack on this country?

Posted by: John | November 1, 2006 01:27 AM

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