Friday, March 02, 2007
03/02/07 "ICH" --- -- The president and the Pentagon now wield the omnipotent power to arrest, torture, and execute any American they label an “enemy combatant.” It is impossible to overstate the significance of this power. It has totally upended the relationship of the military and civilian in the United States. The assumption of this particular power easily constitutes one of the most monumental revolutions of liberty and power in history. It is a revolution that every American must confront now, not later. If people wait until later to confront the expanded use of this power, it will be too late, because by that time it will be too dangerous to do so.
As long as this particular power is permitted to stand, there is no possibility for Americans to be considered a free people. A necessary prerequisite for restoring freedom to our land is the removal of this power from the arsenal of government officials.
Everyone needs to understand the nature of this power and its enormous significance. Historically, the U.S. military has lacked the power to arrest, incarcerate, or inflict harm on American civilians. If Americans committed a federal crime, they were subject to being indicted by a federal grand jury and then prosecuted in U.S. District Court. The Bill of Rights guaranteed that the accused would be accorded certain rights of due process of law, such as the right to defend himself with the assistance of an attorney, to confront the witnesses whose testimony the prosecutors were relying on, to summon witnesses in his behalf, to remain silent, and to have a trial by jury. Everyone was presumed to be innocent and the government had to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Those constitutional protections and guarantees were upended on 9/11, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment. On 9/11 the president and the Pentagon assumed to themselves the power to take any American into custody and inflict violence on him, without according him any of the protections provided by the Bill of Rights. Today, the Pentagon has the authority, on orders of its commander in chief, to send American soldiers into any neighborhood in the country and take into custody any American citizen and inflict harm on him simply by labeling him an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terror.”
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