Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is Unreasonable Search And Seizure Okay Or Not?

News about the John McCain torture bill gets worse. I already knew that the legislation would strip habeas corpus rights, allow testimony obtained through torture, and deprive us of the right to a fair trial. Now, I'm reading through it again, and seeing that the newest version of this legislation allows for prosecutors to obtain evidence from people's homes without a search warrant.

No, I'm not kidding. Yes, it's wild. It's outrageous. It's so out of hand that I needed to check my own reading on the matter to make sure I wasn't just seeing things. I'm not. Read this article yourself. Catch the part where it informs us that "prosecutors could ignore American legal standards on search warrants" under this new legislation? Catch the part where it says that, over the weekend, the Republicans in the White House and Congress purposefully removed the provision that would have protected these warrantless searches of people's homes within the United States?

Catch the part where it says that the Democrats aren't sure yet whether they're going to oppose this?

Am I living in some kind of crazy nightmare? If our politicians won't stand up against this insane legislation, if they won't stand up for our basic Constitutional rights to a fair trial, to freedom from self-incrimination, to the right to due process, and to the right of protection from unreasonable search and seizure, then what the bloody hell will they stand up for? This legislation rips away half of the protections of the Bill of Rights, for goodness sakes!

Don't believe the excuse that only the Constitutional rights of foreigners will be taken away. The President of the United States will get the power, through his own secret committee, to declare ANYONE an enemy combatant, seized here in the United States or not, and then all the Constitutional rights of that person get taken away instantly - because there is no more habeas corpus right for the prisoner. If you aren't recognized by the legal system as even existing, you have no access to lawyers, no contact with the outside world, and no opportunity to do anything about it. They get to do anything to you that they want - and you never ever get the right of appeal, or even the right to a trial.

These freedoms that the Republicans are trying to take away are the freedoms that we Americans won way back in the Revolution of 1776. Senator Patrick Leahy is right. This legislation is downright unAmerican... if you believe that an essential part of being an American is having freedom. If all that you believe is that being an American is about waving the flag, don't worry. They're not taking away your right to wave the flag.

Where are the Republicans on this issue? Why aren't they jumping up and down and screaming about how this expands the power of big government? Are the Republicans for big government now?

How about you, Biggus Dickus, the only other blogger who is covering this race between Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier any more? Why aren't you writing about this? How come all you can write about is how sad you are that you couldn't see Laura Bush? Are you not paying attention?

I'm grateful that Michael Arcuri spoke out against this terrible legislation last week, though he did so in meek, uncertain language - and in the Rome Sentinel, which is neither widely read on paper nor easily available online.

The last we heard from Ray Meier, he supported the fake "compromise" that's the foundation of the terrible legislation now being proposed. Since then, Ray Meier has been busy in an ideological embrace with George W. Bush's wife, who supports the attempt to take our freedoms away through this new law.

If Ray Meier stands against this totalitarian legislation, then he needs to say so - loud and clear. We need to hear from both Mike Arcuri and Ray Meier in a way that this grave issue merits - in clear, official statements released to all area newspapers, and published online where everyone can see them.

This issue ought to be above partisan politics, something that Republican and Democratic voters alike can agree upon. No mealy-mouthed half answers and evasions. You now either stand up for freedom or you sit down and watch American freedom being torn apart. Which is it? Are for freedom, or are you against it?


Anonymous said...

This "creep" couldn't agree with you more. Where is the outrage?

Allen Carstensen said...

Yes, you're living in a crazy nightmare, and it gets even worse. Check out this piece by Elizabeth Holtzman. Another part of this is a get out of jail free card. Do you think there is any hope that the supreme court could/would overturn this if it is passed?

Bush seeks retroactive immunity for violating War Crimes Act
September 23, 2006

Thirty-two years ago, President Gerald Ford created a political firestorm by pardoning former President Richard Nixon of all crimes he may have committed in Watergate -- and lost his election as a result. Now, President Bush, to avoid a similar public outcry, is quietly trying to pardon himself of any crimes connected with the torture and mistreatment of U.S. detainees.

The ''pardon'' is buried in Bush's proposed legislation to create a new kind of military tribunal for cases involving top al-Qaida operatives. The ''pardon'' provision has nothing to do with the tribunals. Instead, it guts the War Crimes Act of 1996, a federal law that makes it a crime, in some cases punishable by death, to mistreat detainees in violation of the Geneva Conventions and makes the new, weaker terms of the War Crimes Act retroactive to 9/11.

Press accounts of the provision have described it as providing immunity for CIA interrogators. But its terms cover the president and other top officials because the act applies to any U.S. national.

Avoiding prosecution under the War Crimes Act has been an obsession of this administration since shortly after 9/11. In a January 2002 memorandum to the president, then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales pointed out the problem of prosecution for detainee mistreatment under the War Crimes Act. He notes that given the vague language of the statute, no one could predict what future ''prosecutors and independent counsels'' might do if they decided to bring charges under the act. As an author of the 1978 special prosecutor statute, I know that independent counsels (who used to be called ''special prosecutors'' prior to the statute's reauthorization in 1994) aren't for low-level government officials such as CIA interrogators, but for the president and his Cabinet. It is clear that Gonzales was concerned about top administration officials.

Gonzales also understood that the specter of prosecution could hang over top administration officials involved in detainee mistreatment throughout their lives. Because there is no statute of limitations in cases where death resulted from the mistreatment, prosecutors far into the future, not appointed by Bush or beholden to him, would be making the decisions whether to prosecute.

To ''reduce the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act,'' Gonzales recommended that Bush not apply the Geneva Conventions to al-Qaida and the Taliban. Since the War Crimes Act carried out the Geneva Conventions, Gonzales reasoned that if the Conventions didn't apply, neither did the War Crimes Act. Bush implemented the recommendation on Feb. 7, 2002.

When the Supreme Court recently decided that the Conventions did apply to al-Qaida and Taliban detainees, the possibility of criminal liability for high-level administration officials reared its ugly head again.

What to do? The administration has apparently decided to secure immunity from prosecution through legislation. Under cover of the controversy involving the military tribunals and whether they could use hearsay or coerced evidence, the administration is trying to pardon itself, hoping that no one will notice. The urgent timetable has to do more than anything with the possibility that the next Congress may be controlled by Democrats, who will not permit such a provision to be adopted.

Creating immunity retroactively for violating the law sets a terrible precedent. The president takes an oath of office to uphold the Constitution; that document requires him to obey the laws, not violate them. A president who knowingly and deliberately violates U.S. criminal laws should not be able to use stealth tactics to immunize himself from liability, and Congress should not go along.

Elizabeth Holtzman, a former New York congresswoman, is co-author with Cynthia L. Cooper of The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens.

Anonymous said...

Yeah and a clear majority of Iraqis want us to go home and approve of attacks on American soldiers. Even the US State Department polls says they want us out.

Somebody test the water in Washington DC and see what the hell is being put in it.

24 Independent said...

This Supreme Court is a set up dominated by right wing ideologues. They'll march in lockstep right along with the Republican Party, just like Sherwood Boehlert did.

Sherwod Boehlert just voted for this UnAmerican bill. He betrayed us. For what? For political favors after he leaves office?