Saturday, November 8, 2008


By cartoonist Mike Lukovich, downloaded from the net. It was in both local papers this morning.

Here are some things about the last eight years I won’t miss. All of this material was taken from You Have No Rights by Matthew Rothschild.

Abusing the statute concerning material witnesses. The original 1984 statute was designed to prevent mob suspects from fleeing. It was used in the months after 9/11 to hold approximately four dozen suspects that were considered suspects but there wasn’t enough evidence to place them under arrest.

“Jailing people who are simply under investigation is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. If the government has probable cause to believe a person has committed a crime, it may arrest that person, but misusing the material witness statute poses the threat of making detention the norm and liberty the exception. District judge Shira Sheindlin.

Claiming that since this is a special war and the enemy not covered by Geneva convention protections for prisoners of war; that “enemy combatants” can be held indefinitely. Detainees have been held for years not only at Guantanamo Bay, but alleged secret CIA prisons or shipped to third party countries notorious for torturing prisoners. Essentially the Bush administration claimed the right to seize anyone, anywhere and hold them indefinitely. In a hearing before the Supreme Court it was argued that the Commander in Chief powers under Article II of the Constitution give the president the right to seize anyone, including citizens, even if the nation is not at war.

“At stake… nothing less than the essence of a free society……unconstrained executive detention for the purpose of investigating and preventing subversive activity is the hallmark of the Star Chamber.” Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

On October 31, 2001 Attorney General Ashcroft issued a regulation that allows the Justice department at its discretion to listen in on lawyer-client conversations if, in the opinion of the Attorney General, there is reasonable suspicion that the conversations may further or facilitate acts of terrorism. Before this, prosecutors had to go before a judge and convince that judge that there was probable cause that the prisoner was using these conversations to plan or commit further crimes. It’s kind of hard to plan your defense if the prosecutor knows what you’re going to do before you even go to court.

Using signing statements to get around laws passed by Congress. The soon to be Former Occupant set a record in issuing these. Over seven hundred were issued. Basically the president says he’s free to ignore any portion of a law that that he believes conflicts with his powers as commander in chief. This includes a law passed in December of 2006 that protected first class mail from being opened without a warrant unless there was suspicion that the letter contained a bomb.

Allowing the National Security Agency to attempt to monitor our phone calls without a warrant. Even though there is a law in place that allows such surveillance as long as a warrant was obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. The ultimate goal was to build a record of every phone call made in the United States.

And finally, in September of 2006, congress passed and the president signed the Military Commissions Act. This act basically blasts laws and protections going back to Magna Charta right out of the water. This allows anyone, anyone including U S citizens to seized as “enemy combatants” and tried before a military tribunal. Detainees are deprived of the right of Habeus Corpus guaranteed in Article I section 9 of the Constitution. In January of 2007 former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez claimed in a congressional hearing that while the Constitution prohibited the taking away of Habeus Corpus there was no express guarantee that any individual or citizen was guaranteed to right to Habeus Corpus.

We started watching “Band of Brothers” again tonight. Those men didn’t jump into Hell to see us come to this. The justification for these actions is that we need to be "protected" from further terrorist assaults. Democracy is not safe and it's not for wimps.

Cross posted in Women On.


emmapeelDallas said...

This is so good. My ex was a civil rights lawyer, so perhaps I'm more aware of the danger of some of these things than the average person, but one of the things I've found most frightening about the Bush administration was the loss of so many of these things, and the passivity of my fellow citizens, who seemed to accept that these changes were "necessary to keep us safe". NOT, and it will take years, if ever, to undo the damage that's been done.

Excellent post.

Toon said...

That was one of my favorite post-election cartoons! I think I saved it to my hard drive somewhere.