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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Very Bad News for Civil Liberties and America's Future

Hello Papamoka Bloggers! I admit that I avoided the news recently having spent some time out in the great outdoors enjoying the Western US, but unfortunately the news isn't very encouraging upon my return.

The worst news I came across this morning was in the New York Times where it is reported this morning that President Obama has quietly decided to continue the Bush policies of indefinite detention of terror suspects without charges - the unilateral disavowing of habeas corpus. Justice, law and the idea that all people are innocent until proven guilty seems to matter less and less these days.

We thought we voted for change, but I'm beginning to see that we were fooled in some areas.

The Obama Administration has decided to ignore Democratic leaders and the majority of the Democratic Party in a spurious claim of authority to hold "combatants." They claim - just like the corrupt Bush Administration - questionable authority under congressional legislation passed after the 9/11 attacks to detain people for national security purposes.

Bush detained Americans and foreigners for eight years while the judicial branch abandoned its responsibilities. We voted for Obama to end such practices, but unfortunately it seems we were duped. In some critical areas it turns out that "change" was just a sales pitch, a political lie to be chanted in stadiums, to motivate fools like me/us who still choose to believe in something bigger than ourselves.

To say that I'm let down is an understatement. Let's hope the judiciary comes through, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

As a civil libertarian, I think the whole situation remains out-of-control. The majority of Democrats voted for Obama to reinstate habeas corpus and the rule of law. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure Obama didn't mention that he favored indefinite detention during the campaign. I'm beginning to wonder who the hell we voted for.

Ordinary Americans, especially Republicans, never seem to understand why civil liberties are important. Most seem to feel that as long as they're not doing anything wrong, it's not a problem. Unfortunately, that is very naive and represents a very slippery slope. Americans must consider the broader consequences of allowing our civil liberties to erode.

Justice Department reports show that "sneak-and-peak" warrants (another result of post 9/11 legal tweaks) are not being used to fight against terrorism but over 90% are being used against American citizens to catch common criminals. Why is that a problem you ask?

It's a problem because this country has done an excellent job compartmentalizing its civilian police forces from federal law enforcement. Those firewalls have kept America's government out of ordinary American lives for over 200 years.

If those firewalls begin to crumble, which many civil libertarians believe is the case, than we are exposed to all kinds of potential injustices. It may all begin with terrorism, but it could lead to all kinds of domestic intrusions.

Just think of the potential. What about religious zealots/Republicans? There's no doubt they would love to use private information obtained in bedrooms to abuse politicians and power in order to legislate morality. Don't forget, they are the ends justify the means crowd.

Unless we take it more seriously, random abusers of government authority could make J. Edgar Hoover look harmless, wielding personal dirt to blackmail those in power or out.

A lack of strong and enforceable civil rights laws puts America on the path to becoming an abusive police state, where local, state and federal law enforcement can work together to control all levers of power. Without strong laws, a strong judiciary and a strong press, who knows where it all may lead.

Politicians and law enforcement may ultimately work together to change the face of American domestic security. Big brother could be just a few years away. You may think I'm sounding paranoid, but the same thing has happened across the globe and through the ages. Why would we be immune?

You may think we're safe, but as fear [of a dangerous world] becomes ingrained in society, most experts agree the potential for abuses of power [at all levels] increases dramatically.

Think about it. Secret surveillance everywhere and anywhere, intruder-like home searches without your knowledge, monitoring your mail and communications, and even the removal of your personal possessions and DNA to check it at a lab without your knowledge. Does that sound like the America you know? It should, since it's the America of today.

It was the America created by George W. Bush and the Republicans.

The American people clearly voted for change. President Obama was supposed to deliver that change. Instead, we're getting more of the same. To those who think I'm overreacting, I would suggest you consider the history of most societies who took such things lightly. There's no doubt, world history is on my side.

What you may call paranoia I call nothing more than a healthy knowledge or perspective on world history and those who abuse power. We must remember the wisdom of the ages: if we forget the past we're doomed to repeat it, and knowledge is always power.

I beg you to take our civil liberties more seriously. Fear of attack is causing us to forget what is truly important. President Obama and our Democratic leaders must be forced to remember why we voted for change. We cannot allow them to continue the policies of the Bush Administration.

We Americans must risk death by attack rather then forfeit our civil liberties to a government capable of unwarranted surveillance, searches, seizures and abuses.

We should be patriots and be willing to die for our beliefs. Let's put the firewalls back. Stop being afraid of everything, even terrorism. Fight for our individual freedoms. Do not accept a permanent state of war. I beg you to join me in demanding a return to habeas corpus, real warrants and privacy protections.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

PS - Our Rants & Raves has a TAKE ACTION section if you decide to email and/or call your elected representatives and/or the Obama White House. Thank you!

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Blogger Machinist said...

I sympathize, Micheal. Many conservatives were disappointed in Bush for trying to work with the Democrats and disgusted with the Republicans in Congress for their corruption and greed. I was not as disappointed in Bush as I knew he was too liberal when he ran. I would have been much happier with Cheney at the top of the ticket and Bush as number two. The Republican legislators though were a disappointment to all of us. They chose to sidle up to the trough with the Democrats rather than serving the country or their constituents. All legislators in both parties feel far too immune from voters. It's dangerous and bad for America.

I was disappointed to see you are still blaming Republicans. Micheal, the Democrats have controlled the House and Senate for two and a half years. Don't take my word for it, look it up. Any of these things you don't like are there because the Democrats supported and funded them. They may have spoken against them but they knew that these measures had protected America for seven years and they did not want to own the political consequences of another successful attack on America. Through eight years of Clinton we suffered an attack on America or Americans about every 14 months on the average, escalating in boldness and damage. After 9/11 we saw not one successful attack in spite of hundreds of attempts. The Democrats knew why and did not want to own the next one. This is why they originally supported and called for these measures, and continued them when they had the power to stop them.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats are Devils or Angels, Micheal. You have gotten a peek and seen that Obama has feet of clay. Now you need to open your eyes and see the truth without shading it to fit the ideology you wish would work. Neither are worthy of the faith you have in Democrats and Neither deserve the hatred you spew towards Republicans. While both sides have their losers I will point out that scandal usually ends a Republican's career while the Democrats are much more supportive of corrupt members, see Clinton, Jefferson,Dodd, Kerry, Edwards, Hastings, etc.

Look at history, real history. It is a much better guide than wishful thinking.

Again, my sympathies.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

I think you missed the point of the article all together Machinist. It was about Civil Liberties. Yours, mine, all of Americans. Do you not think that Habeas Corpus is an American right? Do you think that the laws of our nation should be tweeked to fit the current timespan of events? I'm thinking that your whole point of view leans towards shooting the chickens because the fox just might raid the coop.

In our nation we have fought long and hard for our individual liberties. Those that went before us in war and in protest made those civil liberties possible. Are we to give them all away because our government says we should? How about giving up your guns Jeff? Are you cool with that too or should we label you a threat to America and send you off to Gitmo?

8:09 PM  

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