Sunday, October 08, 2006

A new dirty war, right here in America.

By now, some of us have heard of The Military Commissions Act of 2006 which President Bush recently signed into law, giving him the right to pretty much kidnap and detain indefinitely anyone who he doesn’t like, without due legal process. Everyone from Federal judges on down has denounced this new law as a great leap backward toward the kind of barbarism we normally associate with Latin-American dictatorships, or fascist Europe during World War II.

I wonder, are These United States really getting ready to emulate Augusto Pinochet’s Chile, or Argentina during the notorious Dirty War of the mid-70's? Are our federal courts so heavily infested with Federalist-Society members and other radical rightists that they actually would uphold what amounts to the wholesale repeal of not only the Bill of Rights, but the rule of law itself? Is it really time to load our muskets or hastily pack a suitcase and get on a plane for anywhere-but-here? Or is there something a little more insidious going on here? Something more mundane and cynical?

Legal challenges to The Military Commissions Act are inevitable. Pro-democracy organizations like the ACLU, People For The American Way and will certainly mount them, and soon. I have a hard time believing that Congress actually wants to turn America into a Stalinesque terror-state, not to say that it couldn’t happen. But I think the real reason for passing this almost absurdly totalitarian law is to sap the financial and manpower resources of the ACLU, PFAW, etc. for years to come by keeping them busy fighting what I believe will prove to be a patently unconstitutional and unenforceable piece of legislation. What does Congress plan to whip on us while the freedom lobbies are distracted? An end to the 8-hour day and the minimum wage? Heaping content restrictions upon our mass media to the point where innovators and dissenters merely give up rather than face financial ruin? Casting in stone the buying and selling of members of congress like so many pork bellies?

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