Friday, September 29, 2006

I am an enemy combatant

Fellow Enemy Combatants:

The Senate of the United States, the US House of Representatives, and soon the American president have colluded to declare us all, Americans and un-Americans, unlawful enemy combatants. They have yet to fill out the paperwork making it official for most of us, but they've announced their legal right to do so at any time in the future.

We are supposed to be comforted that the new legislation retains the right of habeas corpus for American citizens. The other 95% of the world's population? Any of them can be kidnapped at the order of our president, thrown in jail forever without charge or trial, deprived of sleep, subjected to disorienting sounds pummeled in through high-decibel loudspeakers, left in rooms barely above freezing, and waterboarded, with no legal recourse outside of the same military authorities that have kidnapped and tormented them. It's even legal to kill people during interrogation if it's an "accident." Us lucky citizens, we can just be labeled, kidnapped and given a public defender (or spend our life savings getting real representation) in order to defend ourselves against the same list of practices.

We are supposed to forget that three years ago our same government floated the idea of "Patriot II" (PDF) legislation that would enable the government to strip people of their citizenship and deport them for providing "material support" to terrorists. Under this proposal, anyone giving money to a group labeled as terrorist would be subject to the new provisions of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. We are supposed to be comforted that Patriot II has not yet been introduced, even though there is little preventing Congress from reviving the legislation at any time. We are supposed to be comforted by the idea that surely our government would never falsely accuse us of terrorism, even though we know it has done so for thousands of others so far. We are supposed to feel confident that the same Congress that happily signed off on waterboarding by a 31-vote margin would not possibly vote for Patriot II. We are supposed to be confident in the Democratic Party or the Supreme Court to one day reverse some or all of this legislation.

I'm not confident that any of this will be reversed. I'm not comforted that the destruction of our rights is still not complete. I haven't forgotten what has been done to take away our rights, and I don't trust this government not to do more of what it has already admitted it wants done. Already, the Congress has begun debate to massively expand wiretapping efforts against American citizens.

Make no mistake, we are all targets of this government. Until we end the current administration and its Congressional rubber stamp and restore our previous rights, until we repeal not only the Military Commissions Act but the entire original Patriot Act itself, until we refuse our consent for this madness, we will remain active targets of our government. Denial is not an option. George W. Bush has said that we are either with him, or against him. If so, I am against him. So long as there are enemy combatants with no rights as defined by the whim of the president, any president, I am an enemy combatant. And so are you.

(Cross-posted at:

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