George Orwell warned us, but what American would
have expected that in the opening years of the 21st century the United States
would become a country in which lies and deception by the president and vice
president were the basis for a foreign policy of war and aggression, and in
which indefinite detention without charges, torture, and spying on citizens
without warrants have displaced the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution?
If anyone had predicted that the election of George W. Bush to the presidency
would result in an American police state and illegal wars of aggression, he
would have been dismissed as a lunatic.
What American ever would have thought that any U.S. president and attorney
general would defend torture or that a Republican Congress would pass a bill
legalizing torture by the executive branch and exempting the executive branch
from the Geneva Conventions?
What American ever would have expected the U.S. Congress to accept the president's
claim that he is above the law?
What American could have imagined that if such crimes and travesties occurred,
nothing would be done about them and that the media and opposition party would
be largely silent?
Except for a few columnists, who are denounced by "conservatives"
as traitors for defending the Bill of Rights, the defense of U.S. civil liberty
has been limited to the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International,
and Human Rights Watch. The few federal judges who have refused to genuflect
before the Bush police state are denounced by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
as a "grave threat" to U.S. security. Vice President Richard Cheney
called a federal judge's ruling against the Bush regime's illegal and unconstitutional
warrantless surveillance program "an indefensible act of judicial overreaching."
Brainwashed "conservatives" are so accustomed to denouncing federal
judges for "judicial activism" that Cheney's charge of overreach goes
down smoothly. Vast percentages of the American public are simply unconcerned
that their liberty can be revoked at the discretion of a police or military
officer and that they can be held without evidence, trial, or access to an attorney
and tortured until they confess to whatever charge their torturers wish to impose.
Americans believe that such things can only happen to "real terrorists,"
despite the overwhelming evidence that most of the Bush regime's detainees have
no connections to terrorism.
When these points are made to fellow citizens, the reply is usually that "I'm
doing nothing wrong. I have nothing to fear."
Why, then, did the Founding Fathers write the Constitution and the Bill of
American liberties are the result of an 800-year struggle by the English people
to make law a shield of the people instead of a weapon in the hands of government.
For centuries English-speaking peoples have understood that governments cannot
be trusted with unaccountable power. If the Founding Fathers believed it was
necessary to tie down a very weak and limited central government with the Constitution
and Bill of Rights, these protections are certainly more necessary now that
our government has grown in size, scope, and power beyond the imagination of
the Founding Fathers.
But, alas, "law-and-order conservatives" have been brainwashed for
decades that civil liberties are unnecessary interferences with the ability
of police to protect us from criminals. Americans have forgot that we need protection
from government more than we need protection from criminals. Once we cut down
civil liberty so that police may better pursue criminals and terrorists, where
do we stand when government turns on us?
This is the famous question asked by Sir Thomas More in the play A Man for
All Seasons. The answer is that we stand naked, unprotected by law. It is
an act of the utmost ignorance and stupidity to assume that only criminals and
terrorists will stand unprotected.
Americans should be roused to fury that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and
Vice President Cheney have condemned the defense of American civil liberty as
"a grave threat to U.S. security." This blatant use of an orchestrated
and propagandistic fear to create a "national security" wedge against
the Bill of Rights is an impeachable offense.