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November 12, 2005

Power Über Alles


by Paul Craig Roberts

Perfidy loves company. George W. Bush instructed his British puppet, Prime Minister Tony Blair, to get moving on the detention issue so that he, Bush, would have company when he attacked the Constitution's guarantee of habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus prevents authorities from detaining a person indefinitely without charges; the guarantee of habeas corpus ensures that no one can imprison you without a trial.

The Bush administration wants the power to detain indefinitely anyone it declares to be an enemy combatant or a terrorist without presenting the detainee in court with charges. In England the power to arrest people and to hold them indefinitely without charges was taken away from kings centuries ago. Bush apparently thinks he is the reincarnation of an absolute monarch.

The puppet Blair set to work. He soon discovered that at most he could try to pass a law that permitted the British government to hold a detainee for 90 days, a far cry from Bush's desire for indefinite detention. Blair took what he called his "anti-terror" legislation to Parliament and was handed his first-ever defeat as Prime Minister.

The British Parliament knew enough history to realize that Blair's "anti-terror" legislation was in fact the opposite. Parliamentarians perceived Blair's proposal as a police state trick that could be used by an unscrupulous government to terrorize Her Majesty's subjects by the use of imprisonment without charges. The British Parliament refused to put up with such injustice. Eleven of Blair's former cabinet ministers joined in voting down the legislation.

That happened on Wednesday November 9.

On Thursday November 10, the Republican controlled US Senate voted 49 to 42 to overturn the US Supreme Court's 2004 ruling that permits Guantánamo detainees to challenge their detentions. How dare the US Supreme Court defend the US Constitution and the civil liberties of Americans when we have terrorists to fight, argued the Republican senators. What are civil liberties, the Republicans asked rhetorically, but legal tricks that allow criminals and terrorists to escape.

The Labour Party-dominated British Parliament will not allow 90 days detention without charges, but the Republican-controlled US Congress favors indefinite detention without charges of whomever Bush wants to detain.

Nothing more effectively undercuts the image that Bush paints of America as the land of freedom, liberty and democracy than the Republican Party's destruction of habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus is essential to political opposition and the rise and maintenance of democracy. Without habeas corpus, a government can simply detain its opponents. Nothing is more conducive to one party rule than the suspension of habeas corpus.

It is heartbreaking to watch the Republican Party overthrow the very foundation of democracy in the name of democracy. The name of Lindsey O. Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, the sponsor of this evil legislation, will go down in infamy in the book of tyrants.

The next time Bush declares that "they (Muslims) hate us for our freedom and democracy," someone should ask him how there can be freedom and democracy without habeas corpus.

The Bush administration has also resurrected that second great feature of tyranny – torture. "We have the right to torture," say President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Attorney General Gonzales.

What a hypocritical spectacle the Bush administration and the Republican Party have made of America. They boast of "freedom and democracy" while they destroy habeas corpus and practice torture.

Americans must recognize the Bush administration and the Republican Party for what they are. They are tyrants. They are bringing evil to the world and tyranny to America.

According to the Washington Post (Nov. 11), there are 750 detainees at Guantánamo. These people have been held for 3 or 4 years. If the Bush administration had any evidence against them, it would be a simple matter to file charges.

But the Bush administration does not have any evidence against them. Most of the detainees are innocent travelers and Arab businessmen who who captured by warlords and armed gangs and sold to the Americans who offered payments for "terrorists."

The reason so many of them have been tortured is that the Bush administration has no evidence against them and is relying on pain and the hopelessness of indefinite detention to induce self-incrimination. The Bush administration is desperate to produce some "terrorists."

What has become of the American people that they permit the despicable practices of tyrants to be practiced in their name? The Bush administration is in violation of the US Constitution, the rule of law, the Geneva Convention, the Nuremberg Standard, and basic humanity. It is a gang of criminals. The Republican Party is so terrified of losing power that it supports a tyrannical administration that has brought shame not just to the Republican name but to all Americans.

When a Republican next campaigns, all he can say is "vote for me because I want power to lock you up and torture you."

References

Habeas Corpus Act of 1679

Responding to abusive detention of persons without legal authority, public pressure on the English Parliament caused them to adopt this act, which established a critical right that was later written into the Constitution for the United States:

An act for the better securing the liberty of the subject, and for prevention of imprisonments beyond the seas.

WHEREAS great delays have been used by sheriffs, gaolers and other officers, to whose custody, any of the King's subjects have been committed for criminal or supposed criminal matters, in making returns of writs of habeas corpus to them directed, by standing out an alias and pluries habeas corpus, and sometimes more, and by other shifts to avoid their yielding obedience to such writs, contrary to their duty and the known laws of the land, whereby many of the King's subjects have been and hereafter may be long detained in prison, in such cases where by law they are bailable, to their great charges and vexation.

and from wikipedia:

In English Common Law habeas corpus is the name of several writs which may be issued by a judge ordering a prisoner to be brought before the court. More commonly, the name refers to a specific writ known in full as habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, a prerogative writ ordering that a prisoner be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not he is being imprisoned lawfully.

The right of habeas corpus has long been celebrated as the most efficient safeguard of the liberty of the subject. Dicey wrote that the Habeas Corpus Acts "declare no principle and define no rights, but they are for practical purposes worth a hundred constitutional articles guaranteeing individual liberty."


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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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