Goodbye Constitution, Hello Waterboard

Last week Congress passed legislation as sweeping in its scope as it is dangerous in its intent. Throwing out the long-held legal principle of habeas corpus is patently unconstitutional — but it may take years, if ever, for a case to go before the Supreme Court. Also, in a blatant attempt at retroactively legalizing criminal behavior his administration has engaged in, Dubya was given authority to determine what constitutes torture. Both of these measures were responses to Supreme Court decisions that slapped down the administration’s bizarre legal interpretations.

An excerpt from an article by William Rivers Pitt:

So much of this legislation is wretched on the surface. Habeas corpus has been suspended for detainees suspected of terrorism or of aiding terrorism, so the Magna Carta-era rule that a person can face his accusers is now gone. Once a suspect has been thrown into prison, he does not have the right to a trial by his peers. Suspects cannot even stand in representation of themselves, another ancient protection, but must accept a military lawyer as their defender.

Illegally-obtained evidence can be used against suspects, whether that illegal evidence was gathered abroad or right here at home. To my way of thinking, this pretty much eradicates our security in persons, houses, papers, and effects, as stated in the Fourth Amendment, against illegal searches and seizures.

Speaking of collecting evidence, the torture of suspects and detainees has been broadly protected by this new legislation. While it tries to delineate what is and is not acceptable treatment of detainees, in the end, it gives George W. Bush the final word on what constitutes torture. US officials who use cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment to extract information from detainees are now shielded from prosecution.

Read the full article here:

That’s a bitter pill. How ’bout a spoonful of satirical sugar?
Stick a magnetic ribbon on your SUV

GOP: Party of Family Values
And now this from the GOP, party of family values. Republican Rep. Mark Foley got caught sending porno messages to a 16 year-old boy who had been a Congressional page. The article linked below has the actual
transcripts — be warned — you might find them revolting. Attempting to put a positive spin on it, conservative bloggers are lauding Foley for “doing the right thing” by resigning. Excuse me! It is also reported that other GOP lawmakers knew about Foley’s problem months ago and didn’t do anything. There ought to be a law against… oh yeah, Foley co-chaired the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, and had sponsored numerous bills aimed at protecting children from predators.

National Intelligence Estimate
If I were a conspiracy theorist, of course, I would speculate that the Foley affair was just a desperate attempt by the Republicans to distract voters’ attention from something much, much worse — the National Intelligence Estimate. Trying to get ahead of the controversy caused by leaked excerpts, Dubya declassified the document. The gist of the report, compiled by 16 US intelligence agencies, is that US efforts are making the problem of terrorism *worse* not better. Looking at the report you have to wonder why it was classified in the first place. It’s dire conclusions are what many of us predicted before the Bush administration (with ample help from the Democratic Party) started the war, and what should be apparent to anyone paying attention. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t believe the pundit spin. Read it yourself.

So there you have it. Going into the crucial midterm elections November 7, one almost feels sorry for the Republicans. The occupation of Iraq is a disaster of the first magnitude, according to their own intelligence agencies. Dubya is having to go further afield for advice that doesn’t sound like defeat, reportedly consulting Henry Kissinger. (Does being responsible for a previous foreign policy debacle qualify him to screw this one up, too?) In order to paint the Democrats as soft on terrorism they have had to rip up the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. And to top it all off, they’ve been protecting a pedophile, making a mockery of their claim to represent “family values.” It’s a shame hypocrisy isn’t a fatal disease.