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Molly Ivins: Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)

Posted on Sep 27, 2006

By Molly Ivins

With a smug stroke of his pen, President Bush is set to wipe out a safeguard against illegal imprisonment that has endured as a cornerstone of legal justice since the Magna Carta.


AUSTIN, Texas—Oh dear. I’m sure he didn’t mean it. In Illinois’ Sixth Congressional District, long represented by Henry Hyde, Republican candidate Peter Roskam accused his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, of planning to “cut and run” on Iraq.

Duckworth is a former Army major and chopper pilot who lost both legs in Iraq after her helicopter got hit by an RPG. “I just could not believe he would say that to me,” said Duckworth, who walks on artificial legs and uses a cane. Every election cycle produces some wincers, but how do you apologize for that one?

The legislative equivalent of that remark is the detainee bill now being passed by Congress. Beloveds, this is so much worse than even that pathetic deal reached last Thursday between the White House and Republican Sens. John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The White House has since reinserted a number of “technical fixes” that were the point of the putative “compromise.” It leaves the president with the power to decide who is an enemy combatant.

This bill is not a national security issue—this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies. Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place.

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Death by torture by Americans was first reported in 2003 in a New York Times article by Carlotta Gall. The military had announced the prisoner died of a heart attack, but when Gall saw the death certificate, written in English and issued by the military, it said the cause of death was homicide. The “heart attack” came after he had been beaten so often on his legs that they had “basically been pulpified,” according to the coroner.

The story of why and how it took the Times so long to print this information is in the current edition of the Columbia Journalism Review. The press in general has been late and slow in reporting torture, so very few Americans have any idea how far it has spread. As is often true in hierarchical, top-down institutions, the orders get passed on in what I call the downward communications exaggeration spiral.

For example, on a newspaper, a top editor may remark casually, “Let’s give the new mayor a chance to see what he can do before we start attacking him.”

This gets passed on as “Don’t touch the mayor unless he really screws up.”

And it ultimately arrives at the reporter level as “We can’t say anything negative about the mayor.”

The version of the detainee bill now in the Senate not only undoes much of the McCain-Warner-Graham work, but it is actually much worse than the administration’s first proposal. In one change, the original compromise language said a suspect had the right to “examine and respond to” all evidence used against him. The three senators said the clause was necessary to avoid secret trials. The bill has now dropped the word “examine” and left only “respond to.”

In another change, a clause said that evidence obtained outside the United States could be admitted in court even if it had been gathered without a search warrant. But the bill now drops the words “outside the United States,” which means prosecutors can ignore American legal standards on warrants.

The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who has “has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” Quick, define “purposefully and materially.” One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.

The bill simply removes a suspect’s right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215. That pretty much leaves the barn door open.

As Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident, wrote, an intelligence service free to torture soon “degenerates into a playground for sadists.” But not unbridled sadism—you will be relieved that the compromise took out the words permitting interrogation involving “severe pain” and substituted “serious pain,” which is defined as “bodily injury that involves extreme physical pain.”

In July 2003, George Bush said in a speech: “The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit.”

Fellow citizens, this bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary—these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.

I’d like those supporting this evil bill to spare me one affliction: Do not, please, pretend to be shocked by the consequences of this legislation. And do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis.

To find out more about Molly Ivins and see works by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.



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By Anonymous, September 29, 2006 at 4:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why are we not revolting?  Bush and his ilk have made it very clear that even protesting in the presence of King George III will result in arrest.  Even writing against him means that you will likely end up on the No-Fly list as a terrorist threat.

When TSA Gestapo goons can come very close to confiscating the 7th Harry Potter book from the author at JFK (what? she was going to threaten the cabin crew with paper cuts?) it is long past time to consider the restoration of the Constitution.

It won’t be much longer before the crime of Lese Majesty is enacted and violators will end up in Gitmo.  Or perhaps for us ‘domestic terrorists’ King George will reactivate Fort Lafayette.

(For those who slept through history class—Fort Lafayette was an island on the Hudson River where Lincoln shipped newspaper editors who wrote against the war and other ‘traitors’.  A bullet in the back of the head was too kind a punishment.)

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By Rytr, September 29, 2006 at 3:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

as much as I despise GWB et. al.. the one thing I think is odd is how people use the arguement that this “opens up” US personnel to torture etc.  umm, I really doubt beheading is covered under the Geneva convention.. these savages do not follow the geneva convention and never have.. research some of the stories of brutal, I mean vicious torture that soviet soldiers suffered in the war in afghanistan.. There are better arguments to use.. this one just maks you sound like an idiot..

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By realist, September 29, 2006 at 2:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t know why everyone is so upset.  If you are wealthy and white, no one is going to bother
you.

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By Helpless in American, September 29, 2006 at 12:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about the treatment and prosecution of terrorist combatants captured in the global war on terror. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your concerns.

This war, which is unlike any other conflict our nation has fought before, has presented our country with many unprecedented and difficult choices. In particular, the debate surrounding the proper treatment and prosecution of captured terrorists has focused our attention on the fundamental problem of how to balance our desire to treat all people with proper dignity with our need to prevent future terrorist attacks.

This is a crucial debate. The strength of America depends on the preservation of our values. At its core, our society respects the dignity of every human life. Our nation can never support the use of torture, even when dealing with truly evil enemies. All sides of this debate agree that torture is unacceptable and that basic human rights must be preserved and protected at all levels of our government and military. We also agree that terrorists who are detained in this war should be afforded an appropriate legal process. However, terrorist detainees simply cannot and should not be afforded the same rights and process that our citizens enjoy in our courts.

As you are aware, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that the procedures used to prosecute terrorist combatants must comply with U.S. statutes and the terms of the Geneva Conventions. As a result of this ruling, Congress has undertaken the task of passing legislation clarifying the procedures under which terrorist combatants are prosecuted and setting clear guidance on the treatment these individuals receive while they are in U.S. custody. By setting clear standards, this legislation will protect U.S. personnel from prosecution for war crimes based on vague and conflicting international interpretations of our military’s requirements under the Geneva Conventions. However, the legislation does not attempt to redefine the terms of the Geneva Conventions.

As we consider these procedures, we must balance two very important American principles: security and liberty. Our country must respect the human dignity of all individuals, but we must also remember that the terrorist combatants that have been captured have been engaged, in varying degrees, in an ongoing, violent and destructive war against the United States—a war in which the terrorists do not differentiate between civilians and military personnel. Therefore, it is important that these combatants are tried in congressionally approved military commissions that afford a fair and reliable prosecution that is consistent with our nation’s character and national security interests. I believe the legislation crafted by the Senate, which has been carefully negotiated between the White House and the Congress, will do that.

Please know that as we continue to debate critical issues in the war on terror, I will keep your concerns in mind. Again, thank you very much for sharing your opinions with me. If you have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. In addition, for more information about issues and activities important to Florida, please sign up for my weekly newsletter at http://martinez.senate.gov.

Sincerely,

Mel Martinez
United States Senator
*******************
My reply:

We are not a nation that values torture which is what the passing of this newest bill allows.  It is certain now that the Republicans will be voted right out of office unless they steal them like they have in the past so far.  It is a time for a change in direction for this once great nation, it will raise again as it should be now but it will not do so under those individuals who would allow us to be hated by the rest of the world because we what to torture their soldiers, their people. 

I what to be pride to be an American but I see that it will never happen under the Republicans.  I am sick of the black eye your party has given us as a nation and as a public citizen.  Torture is not humane and can never be accepted by us as a people, as a nation of human beings.  This law will not protect anyone in your party from haven broken on laws on war crimes because soon your party will be out of power on election day.  We will then return to our rightful ways, our basic principles, the value system which made us a people to be envied in the eyes of the world, our neighbors whom we must learn to live with once again but for now we are simply left hanging our heads low in shame and in despair. 

I hope one day you are humane enough to hang your head as well…....I am very, very sorry for the direction your party, the Republicans, have taken our nation but I will never share it, that direction, with you and I thank God for the strength I have to say that to you. 

Will I be your next terrorist simply because you just say so, because you do not like this email that I dare to send to you even though all I am is one regular person, a small time idiot who dares to disagree with you so you will think.  Will I be the next person you torture because I dare to not agree with you, will I be the next to be water boarded by you or your party,  will I be the next one you put into a torture prison?  You and your party may take my pride of being an American from me but you can not make me believe on the torture of any individual in this world ever, terrorist or not.  It is a evil action to take or to have ever begun in this war and it has/will put our soldiers in the line to be tortured next.  It could be your son, your daughter that is place into this position, their body tored apart in the name of information.  Just stand and think about that for a moment if you dare.

You believe I should trust you or believe in you or your party.  I do not and never will thanks to your party actions and lies concerning the war and its torturing of other individuals.  The way they accept that our children could be torture but oh well.  This Presidents lies about the war, he has made us less safe in the world then we were before 9/11 then his adminstration tries to pin it on or blame a past President, now it is ok to torture people. 

How much lower can this nation go?  It is all really getting sicken and extremely sad for Americans these days but continue your party line if you so desire.  I am hopeful that your party will lose the elections of 2006 and their seats come this November, of course unless your party members cheat once again. The Maryland primary elections are a sure sign of what is to come with the hacking of our election on machines don’t you think.  But perhaps that is the problem, you and your party do not believe an average American can think for themselves or perhaps we are not suppose to believe we still have the right to do so. 

Maryland showed us just how sad the Republican party is, really are and to what extreme they will reach to be in office so that they can take more from us, the citizens for whom they are to serve.  That is the one of the worst facts of all, your party has forgotten that they are elected (stolen probably) to serve us, all of us, not just the few they choose to serve. 

I was born an American but your party’s actions of the last few years have made me deeply ashamed of that fact.  Yet, your party continues to turn a blind eye to what the average everyday citizen wants, believes in, a fair playing field for all human beings.  We believe in the ideal of “their day in court” or “innocent until proven guilty”, they define us, they say who we are as a people, as a nation.  As I dare to quote one great man from the past, “I have a dream”, that we elect representatives who are worthy of us, worthy of service in office, worthy of the oaths they take to serve this nation’s citizens, worthy of their own humanity and then remember how to use it.

Good-Day Senator

Thank you for sharing my views on this distasteful vote today.  My head continues to hang.

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By me, September 29, 2006 at 12:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

google bush crime family

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By SoonerBlue, September 29, 2006 at 12:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The flagpole in my front yard is bare and will remain sans flag until our government restores habeus corpus and returns to the principles it was founded upon. I will not burn or desecrate it in any way as it is a symbol of what we were once and ought to be now but sadly are not. I support our men and women in uniform by protesting in this manner and speaking out often against the role this administration has foisted upon them and the rest of the country in requiring them to partcipate in the illegal military action called Iraq. By the terms and provisions of the AUMF this President has illegally invaded another sovereign nation using cooked “intelligence”, lies, and distortions to perpetrate an action he and his minions desired personally even before his so-called election in 2000. They have furthered this crime by attempting to crush all dissent, manipulate the news media, subvert the Constitution, and violate standing treaties and international laws to cover their own backside from legal repercussions. I find it totally disgusting this President is allowed to stand in front of the backdrop of flagged drapped platforms while addressing military audiences after the mud and slime he has dragged our flag through. He won’t be able to do that to my flag. I will store it away safely until the time this country, it’s leaders, and, yes, even it’s citizens are once again worthy of having it wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave!

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When we the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.” Edward R. Murrow

“No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we all are his accomplices”    Edward R. Murrow

“We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”              Edward R. Murrow

It’s time to take our government back from the enemies within who seek to destroy it by eliminating one Constitutional right after another. It’s this November or it may be too late.

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By anon, September 28, 2006 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m too depressed to write anything that makes sense. 

Chevez was right- Bush is the devil and Washington probably reeks of sulfer.

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By Lily Maskew, September 28, 2006 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This day will go down in infamy as the Day America slid into the abyss.

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By Marsha Vilt, September 28, 2006 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He went on vacation instead of listening to warnings about Al Quida; he continued to read My Pet Goat. He’s botched the war in Afghanistan.  He’s gone to war in Iraq for the wrong reasons at the wrong time with the wrong strategies. He didn’t do a heck of a good job responding to Katrina. Why in the hell would anyone in Congress vote to give him any more powers?  Oh, yeah, that’s right. They either believe the manure or are running scared for their jobs.

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By biggreenpea, September 28, 2006 at 7:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What has me a fright with this is the idea that Bush could define what a terrorist is.  Have we forgotten that the Pentagon was watching Quakers and peace activists.  Will those who oppose the Republicans be classified as terrorists and disappeared?  Is this really the loss of free speech and intelligent political discourse?

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By gary, September 28, 2006 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m commenting on many responses to this issue, 1st, Bush was sold to us by corporate media a year before elected!. 2nd, why aren’t people rioting? Fear! Having a spine? Fear/own agenda. 3rd, enemy combatants will soon be considered as americans sympathitic! As much as I hate to admit it! Until there’s a real choice in our politics there won’t be any real change! for example in Bolivia they don’t allow outside money for their elected officals! Yes, we are sheep maybe headed to the slaughter by China,Russia,and even the arabs with their help! One writer basically said we need to change things but refused to say all out rebellion because of “fear” of reprocusions! I loved the statement by “jon” that talked about how Lincoln proclaimed sympathisers as unpatriotic and subject to military tribunals! It may not be long at this rate!

 

t

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By Bill, September 28, 2006 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Under this law, almost anyone who speaks out against the foreign policy of the U.S. and in support of insurgents can be arrested.  I, for one, am uncomfortable; since there are prison camps being built on U.S. soil by Halliburton subsidiaries ... for reasons that are not entirely clear.

To Jon about Lincoln—the Supreme Court held that Lincoln could not suspend habeas corpus.  One of Lincoln’s campaign chairmen and friend appointed to the high court wrote the opinion.  Of course, Abe was dead at the time.

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By Bluestateman, September 28, 2006 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our senate just passed this atrocity as well (12 Democrats voted in favor…......12!)

As apalled as I am, I’m not surprised.

I do, however, take some solace in the fact that this legislation is VERY unlikely to pass muster in the Supreme Court.

To my colleagues in the ACLU….......start sharpening your pencils!

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By Spinoza, September 28, 2006 at 3:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why and how things are getting more dangerous and why we have to fear the march of the Brown Shirts.

http://www.jabberwonk.com/flinker.cfm?cliid=h2xcp


PEOPLE ALL OUT OCTOBER 5TH

http://worldcantwait.com

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By AirBeagle, September 28, 2006 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This isn’t the first time, of course, that a Republican president has taken this path. One week after America’s bloodiest day of fighting ever (26,000 casualties in one day at Antietam), Lincoln issued this:

Proclamation Suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus
Abraham Lincoln
September 24, 1862
Proclamation Suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
A PROCLAMATION
Whereas, it has become necessary to call into service not only volunteers but also portions of the militia of the States by draft in order to suppress the insurrection existing in the United States, and disloyal persons are not adequately restrained by the ordinary processes of law from hindering this measure and from giving aid and comfort in various ways to the insurrection;
Now, therefore, be it ordered, first, that during the existing insurrection and as a necessary measure for suppressing the same, all Rebels and Insurgents, their aiders and abettors within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice, affording aid and comfort to Rebels against the authority of United States, shall be subject to martial law and liable to trial and punishment by Courts Martial or Military Commission:
Second. That the Writ of Habeas Corpus is suspended in respect to all persons arrested, or who are now, or hereafter during the rebellion shall be, imprisoned in any fort, camp, arsenal, military prison, or other place of confinement by any military authority of by the sentence of any Court Martial or Military Commission.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this twenty fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the 87th.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State. (Link)


This was followed on 22-Sep-1862 with the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect 1-Jan-1863.

As an aside, it should be noted that Lincoln also frequently invoked the will of the Almighty like someone else we know:

Reply to Mrs. Eliza P. Gurney
Abraham Lincoln
October 26, 1862
Executive Mansion Washington D.C.
I am glad of this interview, and glad to know that I have your sympathy and prayers. We are indeed going through a great trial-a fiery trial. In the very responsible position in which I happen to be placed, being a humble instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father, as I am, and as we all are, to work out his great purposes, I have desired that all my works and acts may be according to his will, and that it might be so, I have sought his aid-but if after endeavoring to do my best in the light which he affords me, I find my efforts fail, I must believe that for some purpose unknown to me, He wills it otherwise If I had had my way, this war would never have been commenced; If I had been allowed my way this war would have been ended before this, but we find it still continues; and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe, that he who made the world still governs it.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roger Taney, highly disagreed with Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, noting that even Thomas Jefferson, confronted with Aaron Burr’s plan to create a new nation out of land around New Orleans, stated explicitly that he didn’t have the power suspend habeas corpus. Lew Rockwell sums up:

President Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus lacked both moral and constitutional justification.  It confined thousands in military prisons for opposing war and voided years of jurisprudence.  The Constitution never gives the president the right to suspend habeas corpus, nor can that right be inferred from the commander-in-chief clause or the president’s duty to faithfully execute the laws.  Lincoln’s suspension was not only illegal; it was also dangerous, threatening the separation of powers that prevents any one branch of government from becoming too powerful.  Moreover, his actions inspired future presidents to ignore the Constitution during times of crisis.  Especially today, with the post-9/11 crackdown on civil liberties, Americans would be wise to reread Ex parte Merryman. (Link)

The original decision, which ALL Americans should read, is here.

Lincoln, it should be noted, put out an order for the arrest of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for his ex parte Merryman decision. He was unable to find a marshal willing to arrest the 84-year-old judge.

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By Victor Anderson, September 28, 2006 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When are we, the decent going to stop this descent into barbarism?

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By Sally A. Bridges, September 28, 2006 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Molly:  Please write a column on WHY we can’t impeach this rogue and his gang.  I just don’t understand why we are letting him stay in office for another two plus years.  I am so afraid that he and his gang will have damaged this country beyond repair.  Most people behave as I did, going about the business of trying to survive and just live my life.  They don’t pay attention to what is really going on.  The media must make them listen!  Fear is the poison that this administration is using, but there is good reason to fear them.  I’ve never believed in the concept of the Anti-Crist, but this regime leader may change my thinking. HELP!

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By jon, September 28, 2006 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Proclamation Suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus

Abraham Lincoln
September 24, 1862

Proclamation Suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:

A PROCLAMATION

Whereas, it has become necessary to call into service not only volunteers but also portions of the militia of the States by draft in order to suppress the insurrection existing in the United States, and disloyal persons are not adequately restrained by the ordinary processes of law from hindering this measure and from giving aid and comfort in various ways to the insurrection;

Now, therefore, be it ordered, first, that during the existing insurrection and as a necessary measure for suppressing the same, all Rebels and Insurgents, their aiders and abettors within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice, affording aid and comfort to Rebels against the authority of United States, shall be subject to martial law and liable to trial and punishment by Courts Martial or Military Commission:

Second. That the Writ of Habeas Corpus is suspended in respect to all persons arrested, or who are now, or hereafter during the rebellion shall be, imprisoned in any fort, camp, arsenal, military prison, or other place of confinement by any military authority of by the sentence of any Court Martial or Military Commission.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this twenty fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the 87th.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

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By Art, September 28, 2006 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When shall the presidency become heriditary?

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By John F. Butterfield, September 28, 2006 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Buy your gas at Citgo!

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By Kevin, September 28, 2006 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

First, I am appalled that our elected representatives in the House voted for this bill. I am more appalled that the Senate will probably also vote for this bill.

Second, we are setting a precedence where other countries or other groups will now be able to do to our troops what we have been accused of doing to enemy combatants. 

Would we want our servicemen and servicewomen who might be captured to go through waterboarding or a variety of other abuses and torture?  To our Republican administration that relies heavily on a volunteer military it might be okay but I feel they would not find abuse and torture of our troops acceptable if we had a draft and some of the draftees were from more affluent families.  Many lower ranking and middle ranking volunteer military personnel are minorities from poor neighborhoods or non-minorities from rural America.

” Kissinger sagely informs us mere peasants in America that “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used” [as pawns in foreign policy.] Try telling that to dead vets’ families and parents and families of the walking dead.” - BOB NICHOLS / AxisofLogic.com 4feb2005.

Would the Bush’s want their daughters abused like we abused detainees at Gitmo, Abu Grab, facilities in Afghanistan and other facilities throughout the world used by CIA renditioning?

I think EVERY elected Congressman or Congresswoman who votes for this legislation SHOULD BE voted out of office, whether they be Republican or Democrat. PERIOD.

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By roothogg, September 28, 2006 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Does anyone know the bill # so I can see how my senator, Jim Cooper, voted?

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By sj, September 28, 2006 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the rioting starts, my wife & I will join all of you.

Wish we could encircle the White House and demand GWB step down.

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By Walter Pollack, September 28, 2006 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am 57 years old. I’ve been angry with my country, disappointed, shocked, annoyed and even depressed over things that have happened here. But up until now, I was never before actually “ashamed” to be an American.
Is this for real?

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By John C. Bonser, September 28, 2006 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Department of Defense has hired a group to monitor the way our networks report news from Iraq.

We have arrested Arab employees of our major news outlets.

“In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Pastor Martin Miemoller

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By bg1, September 28, 2006 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nazism without the blatent antisemitism and racism.  Nazi propaganda without the word “jew” (it’s been replaced by “liberal”, “terrorist”, etc.).  They’ve just updated the Nazi model for today’s world.  But contaned within are the seeds of its destruction - namely corruption and greed that festers behind the wall of secrecy, lies and unbridled repression, and which will rot the system from the inside out until it collapses.  The problem is we’ll have to deal with the wreakage of our country and our lives.  Most Germans followed Hitler to the end, and most Americans will follow Bush/GOP to the end.

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By Paula Bennett, September 28, 2006 at 11:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why is the American public not screaming in outrage so all those in Congress can hear?

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By Greg, September 28, 2006 at 11:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m so sad for The Republic that was once a shining beacon of hope for freedom and opportunity to the world. So soon the government will be able to “legally” indefinitely detain people, including US citizens, and never get the chance to see or challenge the “evidence” that has been collected against them. This vanishing of people is what the former Soviet government use to do. It’s what North Korea and China do. The whole 9/11 thing was a law enforcement issue and the bad guys were/are in Afghanistan. It disgusts me on how Bush as defiled the memories of all those people that died on 9/11 by using the event to justify his Neocon agenda of world domination and to remake the U.S. Government in their narrow theocratic vision. We must rebel—peacefully, of course! (to suggest otherwise and I could find myself abducted off the street and flown to a secret CIA prison location, and tortured—vanished—without my family knowing what has happened to me, because that will soon be legal in the United States of America.)

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By Joe, September 28, 2006 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
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What’s happening to the country is very depressing. As someone mentioned above, lots of Democrats feel the same way or would do the same thing Bush just did, because they don’t want to be accused of being “weak”. So it’s hard to really trust them to do much either. In fact, they’ll probably let Bush take the blame for this recent turn of events, but not bother to squash it if they’re in a serious and firm position to do so.

I think at this point, the “leaders” do whatever they want now because they feel like the majority of Americans aren’t going to stand up to them. They haven’t with all the other crap before, why would they now? Wouldn’t surprise me if they used those Diebold machines to steal the mid-term election in a few weeks. Despite all the proof of problems with those machines, despite all the arguments that will probably pop up, they will get away with it because they think the majority of Americans are sheep.

Of course if something goes “boom” again here, thanks in part to what these current crop of idiots have done and are doing, then that would be used to try and unite a lot of the people and those that are making noise about these types of issues will be turned on or even arrested.

It’s all happened before. The Hitler/Germany/Nazi connection is the most popular since its the most recent. USA 2006 can be compared in lots of ways to Germany 1938. We all know what happened in 1939, and what happened after that, and finally how it ultimately ended.

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By killer butterfly, September 28, 2006 at 11:30 am Link to this comment
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what we needed years ago was stem cell research so now it would be possible to grow a spine and or terticles on our elected officials.

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By R. A. Earl, September 28, 2006 at 11:12 am Link to this comment
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Karl wrote “The American experiment that started in 1776 is slowly dying.  But it is dying from a cancer within, not outside it’s borders.”

I agree. America has fallen into a pit of depressing paranoia and corruption from which it is unlikely to escape.

America is not SLOWLY dying, Karl… it is racing toward SUDDEN DEATH from a raging, metastisized, mental/moral, internal cancer.

Bush is quite correct about one thing. It will be history that will judge him harshly… AND, I’m sorry to say, the American people must share fully in the blame. They have LET IT HAPPEN, and so, deserve what they are about to get. This is going to be one WHOPPER of a CRASH.

If I were GWB I’d be buried under an alias.

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By Dean Pettit, September 28, 2006 at 10:52 am Link to this comment
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I just sent the following message to my senators, Kohl, and Feingold:
Dear Senator:
      Our country needs a patriotic Senator who has the courage to filibuster against President Bush’s planned torture bill which takes away American and human rights from prisoners.  Please have the courage to lay all on the line against this terrible desire of some to put us in company with the Nazis and the Dark Ages.  If we become our enemy, they will have won.
      We need someone to hold the line against torture and to maintain habeas corpus.  Who are we?  What are we fighting for if not for our own humanity?

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By felicity, September 28, 2006 at 10:41 am Link to this comment
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As reprehensible as the Torture Triumverate of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are, members of Congress seem not to realize that their hands are equally bloody by allowing this American Reign of Terror to continue.

Senator Feinstein, like Lady Macbeth, may believe she can wash the blood off of her hands, but until she stops the carnage she can’t. And since Senator Feinstein represents me in the Senate, can even I plead innocent.

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By Tex, September 28, 2006 at 10:23 am Link to this comment
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We should not be surprised…If you look at the history of US foriegn policy, you will discover that our government has attacked, destroyed and imperialized most of the third world country

From South East Asia, Africa to South America and Middle East…

It has always been about conquest over a lesser country that can not defend itself…from the conquest of American Indians, to the take over of Mexico territory (Texas, Nevada and California), to Panama, South Vietnam etc, etc…

This done all for the cause of homeland security
Our government helps, creates and empowers puppet governments for it’s own use and gain…these governments are okay and they stay in power unless they disobey our interest, then they are labeled as “dictator’s, ruthless tyrants and genocidal maniacs.”  Propaganda at it’s best

Our soilders are then sent to kill and overthrow these goverments all in the name of “freedom, democracy and voting rights.” While at the same time, private special intrest groups are making millions of profit off the war.

It doesn’t really matter what party (repubs/dems) is in power, our foriegn policy has been pretty steady…Reagan and his policy towards South America

Clinton and his policy towards sanctions on Iraq, and his stand on the Rawanda genocide

Bush Jr. on his lies about Iraq and 911….

Fear is the strongest motivator..It worked for Hitler, Stalin, Mao..and now it’s working for Bush Jr…

If American’s become more aware of our governments history towards the third world, and our foreign policy, we can better understand why we are in Iraq…and just maybe we can be less afraid of the world…

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By faith, September 28, 2006 at 10:20 am Link to this comment
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Wonderful analysis and article Ms. Ivins.  Well, the House just passed the Bill.  That includes the fact that over 150 democrat congresspersons also voted for the Bill.  America has more than lost its moral compass.  We are now in a downhill spiral.  I don’t know when I have ever been more discouraged.
We need a list of every member of congress who supports Bush’s egregious policies.  We need to get campaigns organized to move forward with impeachment proceedings and to oust every single member who has voted in support of immunizing the president and his staff from charges of alleged torture.  If Americans don’t get their heads out of the sand and begin to recognize that it could be a member of their family illegally, surreptiously imprisoned, without warrant, without notice, without Due Process, we will be lost as democratic nation.  As a people with some moral authority and sense of right.
Thank you again Ms. Ivins for your eloquence and your understanding of these truly dire circumstances.

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By Kevin, September 28, 2006 at 9:44 am Link to this comment
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First, I am appalled that are elected representatives in the House voted for this bill. I am more appalled that the Senate will probably also vote for this bill.

Second, we are setting a precedence where other countries or other groups will now be able to do to our troops what we have been accused of doing to enemy combatants. 

Would we want our servicemen and servicewomen who might be captured to go through waterboarding or a variety of other abuses and torture?  To our Republican administration that relies heavily on a volunteer military it might be okay but I feel they would not find abuse and torture of our troops acceptable if we had a draft and some of the draftees were from more affluent families.  Many members of our lower ranking and middle ranking volunteers are minorities from poor neighborhoods or non-minorities from rural America.

” Kissinger sagely informs us mere peasants in America that “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used” [as pawns in foreign policy.] Try telling that to dead vets’ families and parents and families of the walking dead.” - BOB NICHOLS / AxisofLogic.com 4feb2005.

Would the Bush’s want their daughters abused like we abused detainees at Gitmo, Abu Grab, facilities in Afghanistan and other facilities throughout the world used by CIA renditioning?

I think EVERY elected Congressman or Congresswoman who votes for this legislation SHOULD BE voted out of office, whether they be Republican or Democrat. PERIOD.

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By Anonymous, September 28, 2006 at 9:24 am Link to this comment
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As a lawyer, I note with quiet fear the incredibly vague definition of “enemy combatant” as anyone who “has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.”

How long will it be before those of us who oppose war, torture, illegal spying and the like are branded as “enemy combatants” and rounded up? It is not just the poor bastards at Gitmo who should be afraid.

When will Americans wake up?

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By Michelle the Red, September 28, 2006 at 9:14 am Link to this comment
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Who would Jesus torture?  I’m just curious; since I’m not a Christian I want to know who would their lord and saviour waterboard?  Hypocrites.

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By Don Stivers, September 28, 2006 at 8:47 am Link to this comment
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I am a life long Republican who has complained to my Democratic Senator about even considering legislation changing anything in the Geneva Conventions.

The response was, and I paraphrase, “We must seriously consider how to deal with enemy combatants and terrorists”.  Do any of our politicians remember that our legal system is based upon protecting the INNOCENT?

We have coniving idiots representing us!

I could go on and on.  I do not know how somebody as dofus as Bush got elected president.

Please everyone, write your representative!

Sincerely, Don Stivers

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By rabblerowzer, September 28, 2006 at 8:39 am Link to this comment
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Anyone who opposes impeaching Bush at this point is insane.  This rabid rightwing Republican congress continues to give this vicious sociopath unlimited powers, so they must all be insane. Why aren’t normal people rioting in the streets?

Whoops, I forgot those new microwave weapons the military is so hot to try out on American mobs. Don’t forget to leave your pacemakers at home.

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By bb, September 28, 2006 at 8:36 am Link to this comment
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“O shut the door! and when thou hast done so, Come weep with me; past hope, past cure, past help!”

  Juliet to Friar Lawrence
  Act IV, Scene I
  Romeo and Juliet
    Shakespeare

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By SamSnedegar, September 28, 2006 at 8:22 am Link to this comment
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Let me see: the Nazis raped Poland, Belgium, France, North Africa, and the Balkans because their economy was so bad that they had to steal. Maybe you could find a parallel there too, if you didn’t have that ban on ever saying the word “oil.” And I suspect that you never considered that any and all human decency and integrity, as well as laws, are suspended the very INSTANT that a country decides to deliver a preemptive attack in making war on another country.

A guided missile, no matter how good the “smart bomb” technology, has no way of knowing who will be killed when it goes off. Your marvelous Clinton did the same thing as Reagan and both Bushes when he sent bombs after supposed enemies which succeeded in killing innocent people. The bombs rained on Qadafi’s tents killed children; the “war” to capture Noreiga killed thousands of people who had no part in it; the bombing of an aspirin factory in Sudan was indefensible even if bin Laden was hiding there, for today we have no proof that bin Laden ever planned or executed any terrorist action against the USA (I said PROOF); the bomb that was meant for Saddam in the restaurant killed a couple of hunddred innocent diners; the bomb that did Zarkawi in also got a whore and some children.

As Walt Kelly observed long ago, “we have found the enemy, and he is us.”

Are Bush OR Clinton any better than Pinochet or Amin or Milosevic or Stalin or Saddam or Hitler? Doubtful.

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By Miguel Nieto, September 28, 2006 at 8:06 am Link to this comment
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Nazi America. Well, it’s finally here.

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By Jason Roe, September 28, 2006 at 7:44 am Link to this comment
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Molly,

You are wrong, dead wrong.  Sen. Roskam never said any such thing.  In fact, Sen. Roskam has gone to great lengths to praise Ms. Duckworth’s service and sacrifice.  And he has specifically said that she does support a “cut and run” strategy.  However, her campaign, in an effort to create a Jean Schmidt v. John Murtha situation and accompanying outrage, has chosen to mislead you and many others as to what actually occurred.  The actual text is below:

Roskam (in response to question): No, absolutely not, but I do think finishing well is a notion that resonates well within the 6th Congressional District.  I’ve knocked on over 5,300 doors in this campaign and have heard a wide range of opinions about whether we should have gone, whether we shouldn’t have gone, and so forth.  I’ll tell you why.  The 6th Congressional District is not a cut and run district.  It is not a timetable district.  It does not embrace Nancy Pelosi, the Congresswoman from San Francisco who would become the speaker if my opponent were to win this race.  It doesn’t embrace Congressman Murtha who likely would become the Majority Leader.  It’s a district that wants to ask tough questions of the administration; wants to ask (inaudible) questions; wants to ask questions of our Iraqi partners – why there is so much corruption in the Iraqi government.  It wants to ask questions of the international community as to why they haven’t ponied up the grants and pledges that they made back in 2003.  But I believe wholeheartedly that the 6th Congressional District wants to finish our job in Iraq and finish it well.

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By David, September 28, 2006 at 7:06 am Link to this comment
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I can’t even look at the flag any more without crying at what’s it’s become a symbol of.  I’m getting bumper stickers made that say ‘Jesus Demands Torture-vote Republican’.

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By Lorraine Krofchok, September 28, 2006 at 6:35 am Link to this comment
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How do we stay silent?  Why are we not rioting in the streets?  Are “we” so afraid that we allow this to happen?  What happens when they come for YOU?  Who will be there?  Have you forgotten the WWII “They came for the…and I was silent because I was not…”  I am so ashamed of our “leaders”.

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By anonymous, September 28, 2006 at 6:35 am Link to this comment
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I bet if I go out on the street to find somebody that knows who Molly is, I’d get blank stares from 9 out of 10.

Try getting away from the ‘net & avoid the news for a week.

It’s scary how fast you can see what it’s like to be an average voter.

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By Kirk Bready, September 28, 2006 at 6:29 am Link to this comment
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In its defense, the detainee bill will clear up a few matters once and for all.

Most immediately, that outdated and noxious impediment to governance, the U.S. Constitution, will be reduced to an obscure historical footnote, just as Iraq-Nam has become a “comma”.

Then, in good time, the proletariat here and across the earth shall cease to impugn the Emperor’s God-given right to be God. 

With piety and tradition thus restored, the NFL may begin featuring Auto-de-Fey at Half-time.

Say Good night, Amerika.

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By guy falgout, September 28, 2006 at 6:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you, Molly, for your column. I also cannot believe wat is happening in this country.

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By Michael Levin, September 28, 2006 at 6:09 am Link to this comment
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When I was in the US Navy in the late 50’s, a time when the cold war was hot and heavy, I was stationed on a destroyer in the pacific for 3 years. Every few weeks or so we had an education (indocrination) discussion on the differences between the United States and the Soviet Union or communists in general. We were told that the United States held the moral high ground and that we were here to uphold those values.

We were told that the main differences were that we had a rule of law that guided us and that no one was above the law, a government of, by and for the people, whereas the communists had a dictatorship and the law of the land was determined by the power elite.

That people could be imprisoned without cause and tortured to obtain confessions that would confirm the premise of the power structure.

That the press was owned by the state and was essentially a propaganda machine and only allowed to represent the views of the power structure.

That people spied on each other and privacy was nothing but a hollow word.

We have become that which we so fervently tried to destroy. We have become a dictatorship and have given the president the tools to be above the law.

Never in my life had I though this could happen here. May the United States rest in peace.

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By Frank Avila, September 28, 2006 at 4:31 am Link to this comment
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Who would have guessed that, 60 years after World War II, we would be the ones telling prisoners that “We have ways of making you talk!” The scariest part of this is that even if we, as a people, decide to vote this administration and congress out in November our votes may never get counted in this era of corrupt, hackable elections.

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By Debra K, September 28, 2006 at 4:16 am Link to this comment
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So now we know - Bush is in charge of a rogue regime. Congress should also not be shocked when other countries start treating US citizens the same way as Bush treats “enemy combatants”.

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By gary, September 28, 2006 at 12:39 am Link to this comment
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Not to be sarcastic but when the world begins to call us nazi’s? It’s obvious even to americans that we are on a very slippery slope towards just that! Let’s not forget that Germany went from a democracy to a dictatorship in a matter of a few years. Starting with taking freedoms and rights away on grounds of it being necessary for “security” reasons. When you look at Germany’s arrogance by having a technological advantage and assuming it could win against mass is another example of the similarities. I won’t be surprised when they sit up the concentration camps for those who dare challenge their totalatarian authority!

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By CPAinChicago, September 28, 2006 at 12:38 am Link to this comment
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It’s worth noting, BTW, that “waterboarding” was one of the favorite techniques of the Nazi SS for getting political prisoners to confess.  ...you see, it doesn’t leave any marks—very convenient.

THE ONE ARGUMENT that I never hear is:  “Does torture actually work?”

The answer is NO.  Years and years of history who the truth of this and nobody says anything.  ...The best statement was made by John McCain in 12/05.  He said that after he was beaten and tortured, he finally broke and gave the Viet’s, in his words, “The names of the Offensive line of the Green Bay Packers.”

Yep, true enough.

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By Manny, September 27, 2006 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment
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We have arrived to the corner stone of dismantling of human rights. Now,  all Americans
can be targets of the American govermenmt. When men live in fear they will surrender their human rights for psychological security. But what they don’t seem to realize is that their goverment will in the end become their tormentor. Fate has been unkind to the United States. The caliber of leadership in our Congress and the White House is a reflection of the schizophrenia of fear.
Welcome to a Capitalist controlled society.

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By Dan Lavielle, September 27, 2006 at 9:42 pm Link to this comment
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What Ms. Ivans says is true.  The loss of habeas corpus is just incredible.  In a short five years this country has completely changed.  That we are even discussing what torture is makes me sad and fearful.  All they have to do is declare the ACLU or Greenpeace as terrorist organizations and jail many people, with no recourse.

The Dems. must take some control, these Republicans are ruining our country. 

Our problem is Bush is an ignorant bully that no one likes.  I’ve worked in court for 30 years and seen many drug addicts just like him.  He has no soul, no heart and no conscience. 

How about Bill Richardson of NM?  Richardson/Obama ticket might be unbeatable.  Let Hillary become a power in the Senate, I hope she stays out of the race in ‘08.

Dan from Seattle

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By mike, September 27, 2006 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment
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Molly, It’s more than sad, perhaps a national disgrace. I just received a scholarly reply from Sen. Feinstein on why she is considering the bill. Not once did she mention torture, abu-grahib, rendition, or murder. Bush has many hidden disciples.

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By karl, September 27, 2006 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment
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I just came home from spending two weeks abroad, during which time I purposely did not turn on a TV, read an English paper, etc.  I was “incommunicado” as they say for two wonderful weeks.

The first impression that hit hit me when we landed in Dullas Airport with the CNN monitors on by every gate was that this is really a country now filled with hate, propaganda, greed, and a very polarized citizenry.

We’re told THEY hate us because of our freedoms, I wonder just which freedoms those are anymore, as we keep giving away with the stroke of a pen all those things that made this nation and it’s people different and unique.

The American experiment that started in 1776 is slowly dying.  But it is dying from a cancer within, not outside it’s borders.

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By Mad As Hell, September 27, 2006 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment
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Molly,
They’ve already started comparing us to them.  And Bush’s rise to dictatorship mirrors the methods and tools Adolph Hitler used exactly.  It’s almost as if Karl Rove STUDIED the paths to power of Mussolini and Hitler to use as his model.  There are simply too many parallels to be coincidence anymore. 

And now, Habeous Corpus, the ONE right EXPLICITLY defined in the main body of the Constitution, the ONE right that is SO important that it was there BEFORE the Bill of Rights was deemed necessary to be added, is about to be destroyed. And by who? By a spoiled rich-kid cowardly bullying alcoholic cocaine-snorting neer-do-well with a lazy mind and a mean streak who happily tortured fraternity pledges by branding them.

WE MUST WIN BACK ONE HOUSE IN NOVEMBER!

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