The day freedom died in the United States of America

Freedom died in the halls of the United States Congress Thursday as the U.S. Senate passed White House-sponsored legislation that gives President Bush virtually unlimited power to approve torture of detainees and allows the U.S. military to hold, without due course or Constitutional protections, anyone it considers a terrorist or threat to this country.

"This is wrong. It is unconstitutional. It is un-American," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont,  "This legislation will not only choke off freedom but will ensure that the Bush-Cheney administration will never again be embarrassed by a United States Supreme Court decision reviewing its unlawful abuses of power."

Thursday may long be remembered as the day the government of the United States approved torture, brutality and barbarism as "business as usual" in Bush’s politically-manufactured "war on terror." It could well stand as the death knell for the liberties and freedoms that have defined this nation for more than 200 years.

As The Associated Press reports:

The Senate on Thursday endorsed President Bush’s plans to prosecute and interrogate terror suspects, all but sealing congressional approval for legislation that Republicans intend to use on the campaign trail to assert their toughness on terrorism.

The 65-34 vote means the bill could reach the president’s desk by week’s end. The House passed nearly identical legislation on Wednesday and was expected to approve the Senate bill on Friday, sending it on to the White House.

"The Senate sent a strong signal to the terrorists that we will continue using every element of national power to pursue our enemies and to prevent attacks on America," Bush said in a statement Thursday night.

The White House was less successful in gaining congressional approval of the president’s warrantless wiretapping program. Although the House approved by a 232-191 vote a bill that would grant legal status to the program with new restrictions, the measure differed so much from the Senate version that a reconciliation effort appeared unlikely before the November elections.

The detainee bill would create military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects. It also would prohibit some of the worst abuses of detainees like mutilation and rape, but it would grant the president leeway to decide which other interrogation techniques are permissible.

The White House and its supporters have called the measure crucial in the anti-terror fight, but some Democrats said it left the door open to abuse, violating the Constitution in the name of protecting Americans.

Twelve Democrats sided with 53 Republicans in voting for the bill. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., in a tough re-election fight, joined 32 Democrats and the chamber’s lone independent in opposing the bill. Sen. Olympia Snowe (news, bio, voting record), R-Maine, was absent.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who helped draft the legislation during negotiations with the White House, said the measure would set up a system for treating detainees that the nation could be proud of. He said the goal "is to render justice to the terrorists, even though they will not render justice to us."

Democrats said the Republicans’ rush to muscle the measure through Congress was aimed at giving them something to tout during the campaign, in which control of the House and Senate are at stake. Election Day is Nov. 7.

"There is no question that the rush to pass this bill — which is the product of secret negotiations with the White House — is about serving a political agenda," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

Senate approval was the latest step in the remarkable journey that Bush has taken in shaping how the United States treats the terrorism suspects it has been holding, some for almost five years.

The Supreme Court nullified Bush’s initial system for trying detainees in June, and earlier this month a handful of maverick GOP senators embarrassed the president by forcing him to slightly tone down his next proposal. But they struck a deal last week, and the president and congressional Republicans are now claiming the episode as a victory.

While Democrats warned the bill could open the way for abuse, Republicans said defeating the bill would put the country at risk of another terrorist attack.

"We are not conducting a law enforcement operation against a check-writing scam or trying to foil a bank heist," said Sen. Mitch McConnell (news, bio, voting record), R-Ky. "We are at war against extremists who want to kill our citizens."

Approving the bill before lawmakers leave for the elections has been a top priority for Republicans. GOP leaders fought off attempts by Democrats and a lone Republican to change the bill, ensuring swift passage.

By mostly party-line votes, the Senate rejected Democratic efforts to limit the bill to five years, to require frequent reports from the administration on the CIA’s interrogations and to add a list of forbidden interrogation techniques.

The legislation could let Bush begin prosecuting terrorists connected to the Sept. 11 attacks just as voters head to the polls, and let Republicans use opposition by Democrats as fodder for criticizing them during the campaign.

"Some want to tie the hands of our terror fighters," said Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., alluding to opponents of the bill. "They want to take away the tools we use to fight terror, to handcuff us, to hamper us in our fight to protect our families."

Democrats contended the legislation could set a dangerous precedent that might invite other countries to mistreat captured Americans. Their opposition focused on language barring detainees from going to federal court to protest their detention and treatment — a right referred to as habeas corpus.

"The habeas corpus language in this bill is as legally abusive of rights guaranteed in the Constitution as the actions at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and secret prisons that were physically abusive of detainees," said Sen. Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Armed Services panel.

Bush went to Capitol Hill Thursday morning, urging senators to follow the House lead and approve the plan.

"The American people need to know we’re working together to win the war on terror," he said.

That didn’t stop Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., from offering an amendment that would have restored suspects’ habeas corpus rights. It was rejected, 51-48.

The overall bill would prohibit war crimes and define such atrocities as rape and torture, but otherwise would allow the president to interpret the Geneva Conventions, the treaty that sets standards for the treatment of war prisoners.

The legislation was in response to a Supreme Court ruling in June that Bush’s plan to hold and prosecute terrorists was illegal.

Bush had determined prior to that ruling that his executive powers gave him the right to detain and prosecute enemy combatants. He declared these detainees, being held at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and in secret CIA prisons elsewhere in the world, should not be afforded Geneva Convention protections.

U.S. officials said the Supreme Court ruling threw cold water on the CIA’s interrogation program, which they said had been helpful in obtaining valuable intelligence.

Bush was forced to negotiate a new trial system with Congress. For nearly two weeks the White House and rebellious Republican senators — Graham, John McCain of Arizona and John Warner of Virginia — fought publicly over whether Bush’s proposed plan would give a president too much authority and curtail legal rights considered fundamental in other courts.

Under the bill, a terrorist being held at Guantanamo could be tried by military commission so long as he was afforded certain rights, such as the ability to confront evidence given to the jury and having access to defense counsel.

Those subject to commission trials would be any person "who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents." Proponents say this definition would not apply to U.S. citizens.

The bill would eliminate some rights common in military and civilian courts. For example, the commission would be allowed to consider hearsay evidence so long as a judge determined it was reliable. Hearsay is barred from civilian courts.

The legislation also says the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.


  1. curmudgeon

    “Those subject to commission trials would be any person “who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents.” Proponents say this definition would not apply to U.S. citizens.”

    Yeah, right. If these provisions didn’t apply to US citizens it would say so.

    All the current administration needs is one more attack and our worst fears about the new military tribunals will be realized.

  2. libby chapman

    You can take our land but you cannot quince our spirit….The Indian will survive and grow. There is now a 7th generation ready to rise….

  3. libby chapman

    You can take our land but you cannot quince our spirit….The Indian will survive and grow. There is now a 7th generation ready to rise….

  4. Neal Goldstien

    The first comment here — that our democracy was lost when 5 pompous, self-important people called a halt to the Florida recount — is quite poignant.

    It’s ironic, don’t you think, that our republic has been destroyed by Republicans? They’re goose-steppers for sure, always voting as a bloc, always enabling the psychopath who is the Decider of the Free World.

    Free World? Clear Skies?
    Patriot Act? How has this happened? When I was a boy there were Republicans in Congress that loved this country.

    I think that the Republicans have sold their soul to the devil for power. They’re bound for hell, true, but they’re dragging the rest of us — quite possibly the whole world — with them.

  5. Jennifer


    World Can’t Wait:Drive Out the Bush Regime!
    pull up the web-site, sign up , make a stand……………..that’s all we can do at this late date in time.

    lots of people have signed and will stand up on Oct. 5th. the day that Tecumseh died at the Battle of the Thames. He was the only American Indian that did not sign a treaty with the whites…as Kevin Costner stated in “500 Nations”, he was the only one that didn’t and only wanted a graveland in the area of the ancestors.
    Our prophecy is that he returns and unites all Indians tribes in the 7th generation. This is the 7th generation.
    Peace to all that read and join the web-site.

  6. Jennifer

    Kozmo, Keith, Carol

    The Mayan prophecy..3000 years ago..talked about us. They stated that we would be the stupidest civilization and would cease to exist, because of our own undoing. Most everyone is blind or camatose to the truths that are happening right now, at this very moment in time.
    Kozmo, said “History will judge us, as the last generation that had the opportunity to right the wrongs in our country…”
    I guess you know Indian prophecy, too?
    It isn’t too late to redeem ourselves, as fellow human beings, on this planet, which we call Mother Earth.
    “Soften your hearts” for all, which means HATE..EVIL…TORTURE…RAPE…MURDER CAN NOT SURVIVE.
    Believe, trust, and fear not, for the peacemakers win in the end, not the warmongers.
    There is only one god/Great Spirit, whether you are a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, or whatever……….we are all part of this Earth…and nothing is coincidence…there is a reason and purpose for everything.
    I knew on 9/9 that a great sadness would happen; and I knew on 9/11…my exact words “we did it”, not meaning you or I, but the evil that is within this country, which has led us up today’s decision to torture anyone, who speaks against their “LAWS”, which means you & me…did it!
    It’s not too late to pray, in whatever language, religion you belive doesn’t make any difference…we are all related, everything this.
    I will tell you, though that Earth changes are coming soon, thanks to this govenment and multi-national corporations, who think they can rule us all!
    They CAN’T, our energy is stronger, united we can.
    “They can kill us, but they can’t break our spirit” a line from the movie “Thuderheart”…recommended viewing for all that don’t know the American Indians’ plight with this government!

  7. Leigh

    It has finally happened. We have become the enemy. We are the terrorists. We rape, pillage, murder and torture. Is it really too late to get our country back from this horror show administration? We tried to keep them out of office and they stole the vote. We worked to vote him out of office and over half of our country believed his hype. How much more damage can they do to our wonderful country in 2 years. Are we headed toward a civil war? Is it time to buy land and put up a fence to keep our government out? Is there still time to organize and fight with marches, phone calls and boycotts. I fear for our freedoms, our rights and our very lives. Speak out, organize, vote in your local elections, volunteer, write letters, loudly disagree. Use your money wisely – boycott any company that supports Bush. Hit them where it hurts most, in the pocket book. Support any cause that fights what Bush and his cronies stand for. Turn off the TV stations that are pro-Bush and let them know you have done so. I believe we still have a chance to save our great nation, but it will take each individual who hates what this administration is doing to put up or shut up. Talking about how much we hate it is not going to change anything. We have to take action. Large and small. It is time to take our country back.

  8. G.S.

    “The Alleged Tendency of the New Plan to Elevate the Few at the Expense of the Many Considered in Connection with Representation”

    James Madison, also known as “The “Father of the U.S. Constitution”, said in the Federalist Papers that the design of the ‘Republic’ wasn’t perfect, it had flaws and loopholes that had to be carefully examined and redesigned over time to move toward the model of the “Republic’s most proficient intent.

    Mr. Madison made a particularly pointed effort to let it be known that one of the major elements of the design of the ‘Republic’, as laid out in our ‘Constitution’ was to allow equal voice and protection of the minority (minority is defined as those individuals or groups with less political power). He was adamant about not altering, modifying, distorting, or removing this imperative entitlement.

    February, 1788 – “Federalist No. 57: The Alleged Tendency of the New Plan to Elevate the Few at the Expense of the Many Considered in Connection with Representation”, a letter to New York delegates and citizens’, Mr. Madison made clear to me that neglect of responsibilities on the part of the voting citizens would make them victims of prey by both politicians and special interest factions who would exploit their power and countermand the will of the people. I believe that his most fearful premonition was that the citizens would eventually surrender their rights, their community, state, and federal responsibilities to the respective political offices.

    It appears to me as though Mr. Madison predicted our current political state. Here we are living with the wreckage of the past and present. Apathy, assigning our personal responsibilities, and selling ourselves out have come to haunt us.

    Those who have figured out the game well enough to take political office are far from obtuse or unintelligent. They have learned the fundamentals of obtaining power. Stupidity isn’t part of the equation for politicians. Deception, dishonesty, manipulation, corruption, and self-serving motives are completely part of the equation, but we gave them all the power to do it.

    We, the constituents, have made ourselves to appear dim-witted for allowing politicians and special interest groups to usurp our power (will of the people), liberties (basic rights of individual citizens), and general welfare (rights of the individual states).

    Who’s to blame?

    We have to stop looking outside of ourselves for the political hell that we’re in. The problems associated with political corruption and lies are there, no doubt, but unfortunately, we the voters, are lying to ourselves because of the building belief that we are politically powerless. It appears that most voters now believe the individual’s attempt to tackle the political infrastructure is an exercise in futility.

    “We The People” were given the power to manage our “Hired Servants”. Again, who’s to blame?

    Limiting political office terms and the eradication of the primary election system might be a start to take back the power that mandates the will of the people.

  9. American Woman

    From our Declaration of Independence from England which is again self evident: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, having its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    Is it not time for us to take back that which these people have stolen from us by secret and meticulously devious methods? Is it not time for another American Revolution? Is it not time for us as loyal and patriotic Americans to stop this assault on our values and our voices?

    With our political process having been corrupted, what are our options? We still hold the power of the purse. We can bring commerce to a screeching halt. Though it may be painful in the short term, we can triumph peacefully, without firing a shot, demanding that this government leave OUR residences and OUR public buildings in Washington.

  10. storky

    We can only hope that the generals who recognize this tyrannical government are formulating plans for a bloodless coup.

  11. Fred P

    @Marilyn – “The 12 so-called Democrats must be chastised and held accountable for their vote.”
    I disagree. I consider every Senator or Congressman who voted for this legislation as someone who has violated their oath of office, and therefore no longer deserves it. I’ve already informed my Senators of my extreme disappointment, as well as the opponent of the one up for election. I plan to do the same for my Congressman, when I confirm how he voted.

  12. Marilyn

    The 12 so-called Democrats must be chastised and held accountable for their vote. Bush thinks this torture issue is aplicable just for his administration. But soon he will be gone and this law will be in place and our soldiers will forever be in harms ways because he opened the “Torture Door” for the Chinese & N. Koreans and any country that captures an American Soldier.And you can believe the world watches how Bush butchered our Constitution.Our civil rights & freedoms are being taken away slowly.By the time “the Dictator” leaves office there will no longer be a middle class.BushCo has always pandered to the very wealthy.Tax cuts didn’t put any money into the hands of the lower & middle class.Watch his body language, he’s about to blow & our Country is in the firing line. God help us.

  13. Dave R

    Better write these comments fast and soon. Who knows how long they will allow the internet to remain open and free. Look to China for an example.

  14. LoudPatriot

    “What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if he people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

    “This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. ”

    “”Those,” I said, “are the words of my friend the baker. “One had no time to think. There was so much going on.” “Your friend the baker was right,” said my colleague. “The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway. I do not speak of your “little men”, your baker and so on; I speak of my colleagues and myself, learned men, mind you. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about – we were decent people – and kept us so busy with continuous changes and “crises” and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the “national enemies”, without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?

    “To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it – please try to believe me – unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, “regretted,” that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these “little measures” that no “patriotic German” could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

    “How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice – “Resist the beginnings” and “consider the end.” But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have changed here before they went as far as they did; they didn’t, but they might have. And everyone counts on that might.

    “Your “little men,” your Nazi friends, were not against National Socialism in principle. Men like me, who were, are the greater offenders, not because we knew better (that would be too much to say) but because we sensed better. Pastor Niemoller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing: and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something – but then it was too late.”

    They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45 by Milton Mayer

    Heil Bush


  15. Bob Johnson

    Thev have the house, senate, white house, the voting machines and this email. This is just the beginning of the end.

  16. Ray

    Well Folks, it seems to Really be Happening. America is lost as we know it. The next shocker will be when the new national ID Card goes into effect in 2008. At that time you must accept the mark of the beast or you will not be able to travel, buy or sell anything, get medical help, etc.. By the time most americans quit living in denial of the inside 911 scam that allowed this takeover of freedom, it will be too late. Honestly, I think it is already too late. Without a new party to change the status quo, nothing will change for the better, only the worse. Get ready to lose our borders and become the north american zone of slave labor. If you are religous and believe the Bible, then when you are forced to take the new national ID Card, your going to hell.
    If you are not a believer, you are still going to be living in Hell.

    The future looks very dim for this once great country.

  17. Two things about this I have not heard discussed anywhere:

    The first is Ex Post Facto. The principle that the law can not be changed to make an action illegal after the fact.

    Changing the rules for trial is not exactly the same as changing the underlying law, but it gets pretty close, doesn’t it? Basically, Bush is telling you we can’t convict all of the detainees under the old rules, so we will make up new ones.

    The second part is, many of the people who are changing the old rules, Congressman and Senators, have made numerous statements indicating they believe the defendants are guilty, and of the need to punish them.

    In other words, they too are saying they are changing the rules because the old rules might result in not guilty verdicts and they can’t let that happen.

    No media seems to be pointing out that this is completely contrary to the legal principle of presumption of innocence, or that those making the ground rules for a trial should be impartial.

    If the law had been time limited, or only applied to non-citizens, it would not be so catastrophic.

    My guess is, some entirely domestic group, possibly one which is not accused of actually committing a crime, but only “conspiracy” to commit one, will soon be prosecuted under this law.

  18. Dolores

    I only have this to say, I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD LIVE UNDER A DICTATORSHIP….but I now know that is what we are all doing. We no longer have a president and a free democracy..Congress does NOT do the will of the people, they do the will of the DICTATOR…It’s a sad day for this country.

  19. Kozmo

    “The tree of liberty must be refreshed, from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
    Thomas Jefferson, 1787

    History will judge us as the last generation that had the opportunity to right the wrongs in our country. And we sat by and watched it happen, and did nothing.

  20. Lysistrata

    The senators knew what they were doing. No excuse for giving a president known to abuse power more power.

    I now can understand what made Hitler possible in Germany. In 33 he had only about one third of the votes, it was the cowardly politicians who allowed him to usurp the power and make himself the LEADER, oops, the Fuehrer.

  21. JimZ

    Oops. My bad. In my earlier post I used the wrong term. The correct term is “de-flowered”. Oh well, you all know what I meant. I blame early morning.