Drawing on recent precedents, the next president could launch preemptive wars with only minor interference from Congress, ignore the ancient right of habeas corpus and imprison political enemies, spy on American citizens without serious legal restraint, use practically any federal agency for political purposes, manipulate the press in ways inconceivable prior to 2000, corrupt the federal justice system for political gain, destroy evidence in criminal cases, use the Justice Department to prosecute members of the opposing party, offer lucrative no-bid government contracts to friends, expand the creation of private security armies, use torture, create secret prisons, assassinate inconvenient foreign leaders, circumvent laws with signing statements, and a great deal more. Such things are now possible because the system of checks and balances carefully written into the Constitution and explained in great detail in the Federalist Papers were weakened as a result of historical circumstances of the 20th century, but systematically and with great forethought by the administration of George W. Bush.
It is naive, not to mention racist to assume that tyrants appear only in other nations and that somehow America is immune simply because we're Americans. America has escaped the clutches of a dictatorship thus far only through the efforts of those citizens who, unlike the Germans of the 1930s, have the moral courage to stand up and point out where the government is lying to the people.
Unless more Americans are willing to have that kind of individual courage, then future generations may well look back on the American people with the same harshness of judgement with which we look back on the 1930s Germans.
In 1938, Mahatma Gandhi wrote the following… “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French…What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct…If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs…As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.”
June 8, 1967 will mark the 41st Anniversary of America's Loss of the USS Liberty to the army, navy and air forces of the State of Israel. This obscenity has never been acknowledged for what it actually was, but has instead been thoroughly covered-up by the governments of both The United States and Israel.
In the US and Britain, there is a campaign to smear anybody who tries to describe the plight of the Palestinian people. It is an attempt to intimidate and silence – and to a large degree, it works. There is nobody these self-appointed spokesmen for Israel will not attack as anti-Jewish: liberal Jews, rabbis, even Holocaust survivors.
My own case isn't especially important, but it illustrates how the wider process of intimidation works. I have worked undercover at both the Finsbury Park mosque and among neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers to expose the Jew-hatred there; when I went on the Islam Channel to challenge the anti-Semitism of Islamists, I received a rash of death threats calling me "a Jew-lover", "a Zionist-homo pig" and more.
Ah, but wait. I have also reported from Gaza and the West Bank. Last week, I wrote an article that described how untreated sewage was being pumped from illegal Israeli settlements on to Palestinian land, contaminating their reservoirs. This isn't controversial. It has been documented by Friends of the Earth, and I have seen it with my own eyes.
Where is the activism of the 1960’s as people poured into the streets to demand civil rights for all, the students who demanded the end of the Viet Nam war, the protestors who risked prison by burning their draft cards and refusing to serve in an unjust war? Today no one dare raise their voice against the government either out of fear of being labeled a terrorist, arrested, tasered, fired from their job, become audited by the IRS or otherwise targeted, or perhaps, perhaps they do not care.
For more than a year, President Bush has refused to honor legitimate requests from the Democratic majority in Congress for legal documents that he used to justify ordering the abuse, humiliation and torture of prisoners. This week, the Justice Department finally agreed to show some papers to members of the House and Senate.
Sounds like good news? Not so much.
For starters, it is not yet clear whether the White House will turn over the complete and unredacted opinions of the government lawyers that claimed the president could ignore the law and the Geneva Conventions.
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