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.
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!