The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

McJoan History will Not Absolve Us

History will Not Absolve Us Hotlist
by mcjoan
Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 03:22:39 PM CDT

Today, the Congress has forever stained its reputation and that of the United States of America. It is now a foregone conclusion that the execrable detainee bill will be adopted without amendment. There will be no filibuster, as Democrat Senate Leader Reid agreed with Senate Leader Frist to allow a vote on the bill after dispensation of the proposed amendments debated yesterday and today. Senator Reid made a terrible tactical decision in making this agreement. These amendments had no chance of passing. They had value in highlighting the outrageousness of this bill and in thus justifying a filibuster. But without a filibuster, the exercsie was an empty one. We admire Harry Reid's leadership but, in this monumental moment, his instincts and judgment failed him. And his place in history will be marked by this terrible day.

That said, let us not forget who authored this travesty; who stands for torture, for a dictatorial Presidency and against the Constitution and the rule of law--the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress. The David Broders of the world exhult at the "independence" of such cowards as McCain, Warner, Graham and Dewine. But this is a farce. The votes on habeas corpus, the President's power to arbitraily define torture and to detain indefinitely--merely on his word, without judicial recourse--anyone, including, American citizens, show these men to be the rankest of cowards--and the worst kind too. For they pretend to be otherwise. And the Broders of the world, the immoral and amoral Beltway Establishment, pretend it is true.

To their credit, the vast majority of Democratic legislators stood against torture, with their words and their votes. And history will remember that. But the Democratic Senators did not fight to the end, and that too history will remember.

Senator Barack Obama eloquently stated today:

I may have only been in this body for a short while, but I am not naive to the political considerations that go along with many of the decisions we make here. I realize that soon, we will adjourn for the fall, and the campaigning will begin in earnest. And there will be 30-second attack ads and negative mail pieces, and we will be called everything from cut-and-run quitters to Defeatocrats to people who care more about the rights of terrorists than the protection of Americans. And I know that the vote before us was specifically designed and timed to add more fuel to that fire.

And yet, while I know all of this, I'm still disappointed, and I'm still ashamed. Because what we're doing here today - a debate over the fundamental human rights of the accused - should be bigger than politics. This is serious.

. . . Instead of allowing this President--or any President---to decide what does and does not constitute torture, we could have left the definition up to our own laws and to the Geneva Conventions, as we would have if we passed the bill that the Armed Services committee originally offered.

Instead of detainees arriving at Guantanamo and facing a Combatant Status Review Tribunal that allows them no real chance to prove their innocence with evidence or a lawyer, we could have developed a real military system of justice that would sort out the suspected terrorists from the accidentally accused.

And instead of not just suspending, but eliminating, the right of habeas corpus--the seven century-old right of individuals to challenge the terms of their own detention, we could have given the accused one chance--one single chance--to ask the government why they are being held and what they are being charged with. . . .

But politics won today. Politics won. . . .

And the disgrace of the nation will live in history. History will not absolve the President or the Congress on this shameful day. History will not absolve the United States of America. Today we betrayed our values in an exercise of cynical political calculation and blatant fear.


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