[News] Bush's barbed wire necklace

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Mon Nov 21 14:27:29 EST 2005

Body Politics
(this extremely important  article cites many sources - to get those links,
read this article at:
By Chris Floyd

11/18/05 "Moscow Times" -- -- Four years ago, President George W. Bush
quietly assumed dictatorial powers with a secret executive order
granting himself the right to imprison anyone on earth indefinitely,
without charges or trial or indictment or evidence, simply by declaring
them an "enemy combatant," on his say-so alone. This week, the
assemblage of bootlickers and bagmen that befoul the U.S. Senate voted
to codify the core of this global autocracy under the pretense of
curtailing it.

With great self-fluffing fanfare, the Senate passed two measures
ostensibly designed to stem the flood of torture and tyranny issuing
from the White House. But the twinned amendments to a military spending
bill have the curious effect of canceling each other out: The
anti-torture measure leaves Bush's tyranny intact, while the
anti-tyranny measure will allow torture to continue unabated. This
switcheroo, we are told by one of the scam's sponsors, "will
re-establish moral high ground for the United States," The Washington
Post reports.

But what can we actually see from this lofty moral promontory? We see
that all foreign captives in Bush's worldwide gulag have now been
stripped of the ancient human right of habeas corpus. They will not be
allowed to challenge "any aspect of their detention" in court -- until
they have already been tried and convicted by a "military tribunal"
constituted under rules concocted arbitrarily by Bush and his minions.
Only then, after years of incarceration without rights or legal
protection, will they be given access to a single federal appeals court
that can review their conviction -- subject to the usual "national
security" restrictions on challenging evidence gathered by secret means
from secret sources in secret places. Remarkably, the Supreme Court is
expressly prohibited from any jurisdiction whatsoever over any aspect
of gulag captivity, The Washington Post reports. And of course, Bush
can simply skip the tribunal and keep anyone he pleases chained in
legal limbo until they rot. Neither of the ballyhooed amendments
affects this raw despotism.

Meanwhile, U.S. citizens can also be arbitrarily imprisoned
indefinitely without charge or trial. But for now, any Homelanders
caught in Bush's net can at least appear briefly in court prior to
their conviction, where they will enjoy a "judicial process" that
Stalin or Saddam would have loved: Bush officials present the judge
with a piece of paper declaring that the prisoner is one bad hombre,
but all the evidence against him is classified and nobody can see it --
especially the prisoner, The Washington Post reports. And that's it.
The captive is then plunged back into the gulag, to be disposed of
according to Bush's whim. Again, this medieval mechanism of tyranny was
left untouched by the Senate's actions.

The Senate originally voted to cast Bush's captives into outer darkness
forever, without a single legal recourse. But then a few prissy hens
and bleeding hearts made the usual squawk about rights and law and all
that pinko jazz. So the compromise of allowing a post-conviction appeal
-- for people who have been arbitrarily seized and held in isolation
for years without charges, who have often been tortured, humiliated and
driven to madness or attempted suicide before facing a kangaroo court
-- was hastily cobbled together and presented to the world as a triumph
of the human spirit and the American way.

Ah, but what about the anti-torture amendment, sponsored by the
Republican "maverick," Senator John McCain, and hailed by editorialists
across the land as a great leap forward in the evolution of political
morality? The effusions that have greeted this measure are puzzling. It
does nothing more than restate what is already the law of the land.
American forces were already forbidden from subjecting any captive "to
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" as prohibited by
the Constitution and the UN Convention Against Torture. This
regurgitation of existing law is the extent of the McCain amendment,
along with an adjuration to interrogators to follow written guidelines
for rough stuff set down by the Pentagon.

But the partisans of atrocity in the Bush White House knew these laws
when they set up the gulag's torture regimen in 2001. They simply
redefined "torture" to accommodate any brutal technique they cared to
implement, then declared that the commander in chief is beyond the
reach of law in wartime -- and that any underlings who commit crimes at
his order are likewise absolved of legal liability. This sinister
sophistry is still very much in operation and remains unchallenged by
the toothless amendment of the "maverick."

The dual amendments are a cynical PR ploy: Torture will be condemned in
public but quietly continued in the former KGB camps and other secret
hellholes that Bush has strung across the world like a barbed-wire
necklace. The Pentagon's own lawyers certainly understand the true
nature of the game. As one told The Guardian: "If detainees can't talk
to lawyers or file cases, how will anyone ever find out if they have
been abused?" No one ever will, of course; that's the point. With
habeas corpus denied up front, the worst cases of torture and false
imprisonment can now be buried forever in "indefinite detention"; the
tribunals, with their access to appeals, will be reserved for
open-and-shut showpieces.

These draconian measures reach far beyond a handful of hard-core
terrorists. According to the Pentagon's own figures, more than 21,000
innocent people have been caged without due process in Iraq alone, The
Guardian reports. Hundreds more have been unjustly imprisoned around
the world. A regime that thrives on fear requires a steady stream of
"enemy combatants" to justify its unlimited "war powers." The belly of
this beast will never be full.

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