Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Principle, not Politics: Rights for the Accused

I have an excerpt of an article that just appeared at Yahoo News, entitle AP Exclusive: Documents say detainee near insanity:

WASHINGTON - A U.S. military officer warned Pentagon officials that an American detainee was being driven nearly insane by months of punishing isolation and sensory deprivation in a U.S. military brig, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

While the treatment of prisoners at detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan and Iraq have long been the subject of human rights complaints and court scrutiny, the documents shed new light on how two American citizens and a legal U.S. resident were treated in military jails inside the United States.

Two American citizens, inside the United States....

The Bush administration ordered the men to be held in military jails as "enemy combatants" for years of interrogations without criminal charges, which would not have been allowed in civilian jails.

If Bush can do this to them, Bush can do this to you.

All he has to do is declare you to be an "enemy combatant".

You may protest your innocence, but who will stick up for you?

Who will insist that your civil rights not be violated?

Who will insist that your Constitutional safeguards against self-incrimination not be violated?

Though you only be accused, and not even convicted of anything, the treatment you receive will be both cruel and unusual -- it will include acts which US courts have on previous occasions declared to be war crimes.

And, who will stick up for you?

After all, nobody wants to be seen as being soft on terrorists.

And, we all know that if you weren't a terrorist, the Bush Administration wouldn't accuse you and take you into custody....

The men were interrogated by the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, repeatedly denied access to attorneys and mail from home and contact with anyone other than guards and their interrogators. They were deprived of natural light for months and for years were forbidden even minor distractions such as a soccer ball or a dictionary.

"I will continue to do what I can to help this individual maintain his sanity, but in my opinion we're working with borrowed time," an unidentified Navy brig official wrote of prisoner Yaser Esam Hamdi in 2002. "I would like to have some form of an incentive program in place to reward him for his continued good behavior, but more so, to keep him from whacking out on me."

Yale Law School's Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic received the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by two attorneys Jonathan Freiman and Tahlia Townsend, representing another detainee, Jose Padilla. The Lowenstein group and the American Civil Liberties Union said the papers were evidence that the Bush administration violated the 5th Amendment's protections against cruel treatment. The U.S. military was ordered to treat the American prisoners the same way prisoners at Guantanamo were treated, according to the documents.

However, the Guantanamo jail was created by the Bush administration specifically to avoid allowing detainees any constitutional rights. Administration lawyers contended the Constitution did not apply outside the country.

Our great decider -- for whom I was happy and proud to vote after eight years of Bill Clinton -- esteems the Constitution about as much as his predecessor did.

The ethical question: "Can I get away with it?"

And how many will justify this, pointing out the exigencies and the dangers of possible terrorist acts, and saying that safeguarding some terrorist's rights is nothing compared to the large number of deaths and the vast destruction that might result from a terrorist act.

Osama bin Laden can kill people, Osama bin Laden can destroy property, but Osama bin Laden is unable to destroy America -- only Americans can do that, by forgetting what America is really about.

Our dear leader, our F├╝hrer, leads us in the War on Terror, destroying the very reasons that make America worth fighting for -- worth dying for -- and how many go mindlessly, blindly goose-stepping along behind him?

Mr. President: I voted for you in 2000, and I voted for you again in 2004.

I am an American and a Republican; you, sir, are a criminal, and I hereby call for your impeachment.

It may not mean a great deal practically at this point, but there is a principle involved, and I, sir, stand on principle, not on politics.

Madam Speaker of the House: By taking impeachment off the table, you have abrogated your duties to this country. This is not about politics, this is about principle. You fail to do your Constitutional duty, that of standing up to a President who is in violation of our most important laws. Madam Speaker, you are a disgrace to America.

And to anyone who abandons me because of my viewpoint on this matter, know that I would rather stand alone than in bad company.

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