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Last Saturday, in the quaint village of AustinShire, Texas, a number of panels discussed some pretty heady and nasty topics. Among the worst was a panel made up of Vince Warren, Jameel Jaffer, Dahlia Lithwick, and Jeremy Scahill. They discussed Gitmo, the attack on Habeas Corpus, the eradication of the US Constitution, and together, they painted a dreary picture about what America has done to innocents, citizens of other countries, and more.
I’d rather not go through each and every detail they raised, but suffice it to say that each speaker had amassed a great deal of data and experience. Sharing that collective wisdom, knowledge and experience with the audience caused a whole range of emotions. Concern, anger, determination, and to a some degree, fear.
I suspect that even today, most people don’t give much thought to the constitution. About 4 years ago, after the first rumors of torture by US soldiers, CIA interrogators and mercenaries, I began carrying one around. Not only had we taken that lovely document for granted, a combination of a couple of things interfered with clear-headed analysis of our nation’s status and future, as well as hiding just how damaged our constitution has become.
First of all, deliberately inflicting America with fear and foreboding. This administration worked hard to instill a a feeling of unease, even fear, with a remarkable display of PR, spin, and judicious leaks. Security alerts, Code Orange, duct tape, plastic sheeting, announcements of arrests of terrorists, and the use of paid stenographers (Judy Miller) and bribed journalists were spiced up with our military to convince us that our fears were grounded in fact. The military deliberately broke US law by conducting propaganda against the US itself, to create a pliable, obedient, and compliant society. Sheeple, in other words.
On top of that, we were told repeatedly that we were currently at risk and under attack, and always that we were at war. Worse yet, the enemy had strange customs, spoke different languages, and did strange things like pray many times during the day. They had nukes, they had biological weapons, they had strange accents, and they hated us for our freedoms.
Obviously, one solution imposed by Bush/Cheney, with the help of a politicized Department of Justice, was to remove our pesky freedoms and constitutional protections. If enough of our freedoms were taken away, it seemed, those rag-headed terra-ists wouldn’t bother with us anymore.
The Government did not stop with the attack on our rights and constitutional guarantees, but instead, they expanded it those of other people. Illegal renditions, secret prisons, kidnappings, and worse. Now we know that more than 55% of the Gitmo detainees were innocent of terrorism, war crimes, or even pissing downwind in our general direction, ACCORDING TO THE BASE COMMANDER OF GITMO!
The violations of the Geneva Conventions were not mere mistakes by a few lowly, out of control, misguided soldiers. No, this was official, although secret, US Policy, coming directly from the White House, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Addington, Yoo, Gonzales, George W. Bush, and other miscreants and war criminals.
At some point in time, Crooks and Liars, C-SPAN, or other outlets will have the video of this conference. When it pops up, I will edit this and add that information.
Watch the conference. Get as angry and worried and uncomfortable, even mad as hell as the rest of the audience did last week. The idea that America has sunk to such depths is still jaw-dropping.
The point every speaker made was this: We should not seek the impeachment or trial of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld or others as a form of retribution, as a political weapon, or just because we feel like it. Not only would it be counter-productive, it might even create sympathy for those criminals.
To the contrary, we MUST seek impeachment and war crimes trials for an entirely different reason. They broke the law, US law, international, and many treaties, conventions and statutes. If I murder someone, the chances of my going to trial are pretty good, even if we elect a new State’s attorney, governor, or even president. Why? Because I broke the law, and I am responsible for my crimes, regardless of who wins those offices. That same standard applies to the president and his top aides. They broke the law, and they must suffer the consequences. If we fail to uphold the law and prosecute now, then 200+ years of American jurisprudence, of the rule of law, and of what makes America so special will be tossed out as being inconvenient or hard.
America is better than that.