Well, that tears it. I read the Military Commissions
Act of 2006 on my sh*tty little dial-up connection here in the cabin, and immediately
went to the pawn shop in Moab and bought another rifle. Five of them now in
the stash, plus a couple pistols. Ready enough to arm seven people altogether.
Have you read the Military
Commissions Act of 2006? I mean, read it through to its poisonous black
heart, its implication for our basic freedoms, its tolling that the system of
checks enshrined in the Constitution and entrusted to the three balanced branches
is gone? That's extreme language, I know, but it approaches the truth.
The Military Commissions Act was offered by legislators in collusion with
the Bush White House to legalize CIA and other government tactics of torture
against so-called "unlawful enemy combatants." For this reason, the
Military Commissions Act is now referred to by its critics as the Torture Act.
In violation of the Geneva Convention and our own Anti-Torture Statute passed
by Congress in 1994 – legislation that makes torture a felony punishable by
20 years in prison – the Torture Act has now "legalized" a mind-shattering
array of techniques for gleaning information from the "enemy." Conveniently,
it also pardons ex post facto "our brave men and women" (as George
W. Bush describes them) who since the dawn of the "war on terror"
have been committing crimes against humanity. The acts of torture now made legal
and wholesome include the burning of flesh, the breaking of bones, the placing
of needles under fingernails, the tearing of limbs, the disfiguring of faces,
and the infliction of general bodily injury that may or may not entail – the
fine print of the law isn't clear, making it all the more nefarious, as fine
print always is – the loss of a finger or a toe or a testicle.
This is horrific enough. Upon further investigation of the document, however,
one discovers that the enemy is not just the faceless Islamic horde but the
American people – unsurprising from a regime, abetted by its legislative branch,
that already illegally wiretaps its citizens. According to the Torture Act,
any American now can be declared an "unlawful combatant" to be arrested,
held indefinitely without hearing or charge or trial, tortured without cease
or until such time as hell freezes over. There is no guideline for how the designation
of "combatant" is to be made; it simply falls from on high at the
whim of the president's office. This is the secret meaning of the document.
The right of habeas corpus, a right as old as the germ of democracy? Gone. Never
happened. Confronting your accuser? Sorry. Hearing the charges against you?
Not applicable. Right to counsel for a public trial? Forget it. The protections
against cruel and unusual punishment? Your hands and feet are tied, pal. Our
Congress passed this law, violating its own duty to protect the Constitution.
It is now federal law that the Bill of Rights no longer applies.
Our answer as citizens should be clear. You can be paranoid and go out and
buy more guns. In the near term, this is probably a bad idea, though it certainly
makes freaks like me sleep better at night, knowing there is a vast armed populace
ready to defend against its own government. But are Americans really willing
to do so? Time will tell. Violent insurrection against the United States by
New Yorkers and Ohioans and Utahns together may be necessary at some future
when the televisions flicker out and the shelves at the Wal-Mart
run short. Until then, there are other possibilities. Chief among them, in this
vaunted election year, is not voting Democrat. "The problem is that the
Democrats are part of the problem," observes
political scientist Paul Craig Roberts here at Antiwar.com. "Democrats,
no less than Republicans, have permitted the Bush regime to violate the separation
of powers and the rule of law. A branch of government that no longer defends
its power is a branch of government that no longer believes in its power. Just
as the Reichstag faded away for Hitler, the U.S. Congress has faded away for
the Bush administration."
Consider the significance of the sheer number of representatives and
senators who voted in favor of the Torture Act. In the House, 218
Republicans, 32 Democrats. In the Senate, a vote of 65 to 34, the
yeas including Joe Lieberman, Chuck Hagel, Charles Grassley, and
torture victim John McCain.
The fact is that every congressperson who voted for the Torture Act must take
immediate action to repeal the law and then resign forever from public service.
The ancient Greeks suggest further remedies: banishment beyond the walls of
the polis, to forever wander among the barbarians. Our legislators in their
exile can be assured that countries such as Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and
North Korea will welcome them, always looking for spokesmen to defend brutality
in the name of security. Failing this, we have the hope of the U.S. Supreme
Court, which has shown its colors in the Hamdan
decision striking down the Bush administration's military tribunals. If
both our federal gatekeepers fail us, state legislators should begin the process
of the Torture Act, regarding it as a violation of the covenant between the
separate states and the federal center and refusing to enforce it or abide it.
How would this play out on the ground? Let's say the federal government comes
to your state looking for those who have been deemed, in a process as random
as lightning touching down, "unlawful enemy combatants" perhaps
someone like yourself who reads too much. The state government to whom you look
for protection (we hope) rebukes the federal government's effort and refuses
to hand you over. Thus is a constitutional crisis provoked (as if the Constitution
isn't already in crisis).
And from there things spin out of control. We might
actually witness the use of federal troops to enter into state
territory to apprehend the "enemies" among us. Would state militia
the form of the National Guard be called forth to defend against the
encroachment? Would militiamen come forth from the homes of
Americans? Would there be balls enough among the citizens
collectively for us to even reach this far in the tragedy? Let's
hope so, and hope it never comes to pass; let's hope the democracy
will survive the long beating of the last seven years to emerge from
its shocked shell and re-engage.
But given Murphy's Law, we should be prepared otherwise. For my part,
understanding that the federal government, regardless of the party in
power, actively connives against my interests as a free man, that my
elected leaders in Congress no longer believe in the American
experiment (while spending my tax dollars in furtherance of its
failure, galling thought), I am increasingly inclined to renounce the
United States. I renounce it in favor of Brooklyn, New York, and
Moab, Utah, in favor of the local over the global, of the polis over
the imperium. Being anti-United States, I am most certainly
pro-American. This, under the constantly distending definitions
provided by our Congress, might just make me an "enemy" worthy of
having my skin pocked black and my arms broken.
Hence the new Lee-Enfield bolt action, bought at Yama & Sons' pawnshop
in Moab, whose proprietors provided 12 free rounds of .303 ammunition, which
among Army-surp suppliers costs about 0.2 cents a round, i.e., goddamn cheap,
ideal for readying an insurrection. A rifle invented in 1895, muzzle velocity
2,440 feet per second, maximum range 2,000 yards, deadly reliable, morbidly
accurate, perfected throughout the first half of the 20th century for maintaining
the falling British Empire; now for possible use to end the American one.