Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Digby and his excellent commenters lament the attempt by the US Senate to overthrow habeus corpus: As an example of a commenter superior to most posters, witness the following from 'Antifa':

"The American Senate has merrily voted to overturn the nation's Constitution. Yes, the very same Constitution that is the envy of the world. The Constitution that enshrines the inalienable right of every human being to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And to prompt judicial review of any incarceration. Forty-nine Senators have voted to separate these inalienable rights from hundreds of human beings, permanently denying them any hope of trial, explanation, or release.

"As if it was within the power of these Senators to stand above the law and cast such a criminal vote. They make a mockery of themselves and the nation to even consider the gesture, much less carry it out. It cannot stand except in the full breach of every fundamental law of the land. Yet it does great harm that they have done so. Their foppish action is a blow to civilization as well as international law. They know not what they toy with here.

"From the medieval days of the Magna Carta uncounted generations have fought and bled for this very principle that no man is above the law, that the law must apply promptly and equally to every person. Our civilization stands upon that rock. This is what is enshrined in the Latin legal phrase habeas corpus, commonly translated as "produce the person here in court."

"Actually, there are several versions of the phrase, which is simply lifted from the opening sentence of the common legal writ issued routinely since medieval times: habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, "You will produce the person here in court for examination." Just as common was habeas corpus ad testificandum, "You will produce the person here in court to testify."

"No legal or private authority may refuse the order. To allow refusal is to shatter the rule of law throughout the nation.

"Prior to this liberating standard, and perennially in opposition to it, is the doctrine of the divine right of kings and other rulers to stand above the law: Rex solutus est a legibus, "The King is free from the laws."

"Throughout history, whether they be Popes, Presidents, dictators, or cult leaders like David Koresh, the man at the top of any political organization can hardly help but find such an arrangement exceedingly convenient and pleasant, and so very easily rationalized. From Roman times to our own sorry situation, the assumption of divine rights above the law has proved to be the most corrosive and corrupting influence on empires and nations that has ever been brought to bear, for it rots everything instantly from within. If one man is above the law, then all may be. Then there is no law.

"George Bush believes in the divine right of kings. He believes, as he has stated, that God told him to run for President. He believes, as he has stated, that God told him to smite Iraq. He believes, as he has stated, that his job would be a lot easier if he was a dictator. George Bush believes, as he has stated, that he does not need to explain himself to anyone. It is for others to explain themselves; he says he is above even self-examination. What he says and does is right because he feels it is right. He doesn't do nuance, and he has surrounded himself only with people who don't feel the need to relate to reality -- they simply make a new reality every morning, and let the rest of us sort it out afterwards.

"Well, the rule of law that generations of Americans have fought, bled and died for says we don't operate that way around here, no matter what King George and his advisors may say. That all went out the window in 1776, and no matter how many different people have tried in so many different ways to bring it back, we won't have it in America.

"George is trying again, and so these are parlous times for our Republic. Right now, we have our American government openly pursuing, and defending, two gross violations of the common law tradition of the rule of law. Two flagrant violations of the letter and very spirit of our Constitution.

"One is George Bush's claim that he, personally, can order the incarceration of anyone he "deems" to be an enemy combatant. Imprison them without charges, without review, without trial, without end, without recourse. It is in support of this divine right of King George that the American Senate has lately thrown the Constitution overboard in pursuit of petty political theater, heedless of the fact they have no right or standing to even vote on such a decree, much less give it the force of law. That's how hollow the institution has become under Republican piracy.

"The other gross violation is the new tool in Federal law enforcement's toolkit, the National Security Letter. This is a private and secret permit to investigate anyone, citizen or not, to the utmost degree, in the utmost secrecy. All sorts of data mining is available to modern investigators, from credit and bank card usage, security tapes, mortgages, tax filings, school records, emails, letters, photos, bills paid, web surfing, and even the contents of your home, your computer, your safe deposit box, and your work records. None of this information is discarded, ever, and it is illegal for anyone aware of even a bit of it to tell you that such an investigation has gone on.

"Your private home, your bed, your property and your opinions are no longer private under the auspices of a National Security Letter. You may be freely burgled at any time, wiretapped, bugged, recorded and photographed, and your most private musings, writings, conversations, photos, habits and opinions may be used against you for purposes of deeming you an enemy combatant.

"It is easy to see that any of a thousand offhand remarks will suffice to "deem" you an enemy of the State simply because you neither approve of nor cooperate with the State's latest crimes or international wars. This is, indeed, King George's mantra: "You are either with us, or against us."

"This is a full blown return to the two centuries of royal abuses prior to the French Revolution, when the French government, with the absentee blessings of the King, issued many thousands of lettres de cachet, or 'letters bearing the King's Seal.' Like today's National Security Letters, in most instances the French King never saw or heard of the lettres de cachet issued in his name. They could be had for the asking by government officials; they could be purchased in blank sets by wealthy persons desiring to rid themselves of troublesome individuals as the occasion arose -- simply by filling in their name on the blank spot provided, and handing the paper to the local police. The person who had troubled their composure or plans soon disappeared, permanently.

"Printed up in the thousands by Gutenberg's new invention, and sold to those wealthy enough to buy them, the letters all said the same thing. Take such and such person to the Bastille or some other local jail, convent, nunnery, hospital or workhouse and remand them there to the permanent care of the proper authorities. No trial, no further news, no recourse.

"Like Guantanamo today, it was simply understood that there were no restraints or restrictions on the treatment of the inmate once they arrived. After all, to never hear from them again was the ideal.

"King George Bush now freely exercises his divine right to bypass centuries of established common law, upon which our nation and culture and civilization rests, and bless the issue of many thousands of such lettres de cachet, upon American citizens and citizens of nations he has ordered invaded. Some get the full "enemy combatant" treatment, most are simply watched until the time to seize them arrives. They are on the short list permanently, until action on their status is called for.

"Because of this, the bulwark against injustice and servitude that was provided by the American Constitution is now wholly breached. The hole may appear small now, but there is nothing to prevent ever widening use of this pernicious right of King George to seize and disappear anyone who troubles his plans and aims. He doesn't even need to see the letters that send thousands to secret prisons around the globe. They are simply issued in his name. Like the Sun King in Versailles, George does not wish to be disturbed with the sordid details of his empire.

"King George will receive soon enough the hard lessons that the English and French Kings were forced to receive. That no man is divine; that no man stands above the law. Not for long. Not in America.

"The principle has nothing to do with being American or not. The American Declaration of Independence and Constitution refer to mankind itself when it enumerates the rights of mankind. Our founding documents do not distinguish between enemy combatants, citizens, POW's or rebels or pirates or loyalists or horse thieves or troublesome peasants and farmers complaining about British taxes. They refer to mankind in the broadest and most universal sense of the word, and they state without reservations that every human being has inalienable rights. Among them is the right to prompt and full judicial review when they stand accused by anyone, of anything.

"That is the law of this land, bought with patriot's blood over and over again.

"What does that make these National Security Letters?

"Crimes against the Constitution.

"What does that make of every Federal, State or local law enforcement official who participates in carrying out or hiding or storing information gathered under one of these National Security Letters?

"A traitor to their oath of office and to the Constitution.

"What does that make King George Bush as he pursues his divine right to "deem" people enemy combatants?

"A traitor to his office and a traitor to the Constitution.

"What does that make the forty-nine Senators who voted to deny the inalienable rights of human beings enumerated in the American Constitution to human beings held incognito in Guantanamo?

"Traitors to their office and to the Constitution.

"These are all high crimes and misdemeanors. These are all hanging offenses.

"These Senators, these agents, this President have cast their lot with pirates and traitors, and will receive the due of pirates and traitors, at the hands of Americans. They are living in their last days even now. They have taken all the rope they need to hang themselves, and are busy tying their own knots.

"What King George and his sycophants and agents have done is awaken yet again a sleeping giant, and when we come for each and every one of these people they will do well to tremble.

"For the first oath of the free American has always been: Don't Tread On Me."

See also NorCalJim: "No writ. No Geneva. Nothing. A new category of human. Not entitled to the rights of a citizen. Not entitled to the Geneva rights of POWs or civilians. A new category, a new class, a new status entirely. Well, not entirely. It is the same status as that of the slave. Chattel. Brought forth appropriately enough, by southern white men."

It is interesting to note that Australian David Hicks was sold into this system (sold into slavery?) for a reported US$1000.

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