9/11 and the Danger Within
The Patriot Act has accustomed our ears to the phrase "secret military tribunals." While the citizen spying program, TIPS, did fail, each successive pitch for authoritarian tactics establishes their normalcy in our minds and makes the unthinkable banal.
Now, Mr. Bush is calling for more hideous measures: denying bail to most terror suspects, expanding the federal death penalty for terrorism-related crimes, and, most significantly, bypassing grand juries and judges to issue subpoenas. The attacks of September 11, 2001 are the excuse as always: Bush announced the measures yesterday on the eve of the second anniversary, speaking before an ecstatic crowd of FBI agents and Marines at the FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia.
In a page from the Pinochet guide to democracy, where authoritarianism is repeatedly confused with authority, Bush demanded that Congress "untie the hands of our law enforcement officials." The other September 11 anniversary is General Pinochet's bloody 1973 coup in Chile.
I persist in believing that it is our civil liberties that define us as Americans, not freedom fries and SUVs. And while terrorists may declare war on the body of America, the real threat to the United States is a corner-cutting, power-hungry Administration intent on pimping out the misery and horror of the World Trade Center disaster to hogtie the U.S. Constitution and shatter our Bill of Rights.
Denying bail to most terror suspects essentially dynamites the presumption of innocence that has been the bedrock of our judicial system. The secrecy and lack of accountability inherent in the "administrative subpoena" which will bypass both judges and grand juries in terrorism investigations will elevate the police force, make the judiciary largely irrelevant, and essentially abolish individual rights.
Wake up. Jump out! Only a rapid, resolute "no" from both Democrats and Republicans can even begin to address the damage of these horrors. Considering them, tinkering with them, even diluting them, just legitimizes the unthinkable. The McCarthy era is beginning to look quaint by comparison.