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kos diary: Is Declaring Permanent War Treason?

From: Susan S.
Sent on: Thursday, March 26, 2009 4:07 PM

Is Declaring Permanent War Treason?

by Ralph Lopez

With Center for Constitutional Rights President Michael Ratner now saying that recently uncovered John Yoo memos constitute "treason" against "the institutions of the United States" by arguing formally for the revocation of the First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendments, (free speech, search and seizure without probable cause, and right to a jury trial,) it really boils it down to whether we have accepted a certain premise. 

Does the War on Terror meet all the definitions of George Orwell's state of permanent war?  If we have accepted a state of permanent war, then Yoo's memos are ultimately sound, as they are based largely upon claims of wartime powers which existed in previous wars.  If we have not, then the attempt to impose a definition of war which has "no end," in George Bush's words, amounts to pure treason.

After 9/11 Bush could have said, "We will not allow terrorists to frighten us into abolishing our own freedoms, the very freedoms they so hate.  We will show the world how a free and fearless people rises to this enormous challenge; this is a war for the hearts and minds of the world.  And that is a war America will win."

Instead, Bush said Be Scared, Be Damned Scared, and Give All Your Freedoms to Me Because I'll Take Care of You.

Bush made it clear that his war went beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, by calling it a "global" war on terror, with the enemy having sanctuaries in over 60 countries, including the U.S.  He claimed the authority to strike the enemy "wherever we may find him," be it Indonesia, the Philippines or South America.

The missed story of the century was Bush repeatedly flubbing his Oath of Office, by saying he was keeping to his most "solemn duty," perteckin the American people.  But the oath says only "to uphold, defend, and protect the United States Constitution," end of story, all she wrote.  It doesn't say a damned thing about perteckin the people.

The Founders left the people to protect themselves, and worried most about protection from an arrogant, greedy government like the one which is now giving all your money away to millionaires and billionaires, in addition to the half-trillion it has already given to Halliburton.  

And so it was, pondering this, that I happened across a brilliant little essay by one Jacob Levich, who soon after 9/11 wrote:

In his address to Congress Thursday, George Bush effectively declared permanent war -- war without temporal or geographic limits; war without clear goals; war against a vaguely defined and constantly shifting enemy...Its true purpose is to control dissent and sustain dictatorship by nurturing popular fear and hatred.

"Controlling dissent" could mean forcing us to accept, as the price of safety, what George Bush did to Jose Padilla, the first American "enemy combatant" arrested on American soil in the Forever War.  If we accept the premise of Orwell's Forever War, then what happened to Padilla is now perfectly legal and could happen to any one of us. 

If we say, Now hold on there, George Bush and John Yoo, we're going to call you on that one. By trying to slip past us the notion of Forever War, in tandem with claiming wartime powers which trump the Bill of Rights, you are committing treason, as Michael Ratner said, to "the institutions of the United States."  You can have an open-ended war.  Or you can have wartime powers.  But you can't have both.

A nation is not just dirt.  A nation is its laws and institutions.

Levich tightly lays out the case for how the Bushies tried to pull an Orwell, the remedy for which is the growing prosecution movement:

WAR IS PEACE. A reckless war that will likely bring about a deadly cycle of retaliation is being sold to us as the means to guarantee our safety. Meanwhile, we've been instructed to accept the permanent war as a fact of daily life. As the inevitable slaughter of innocents unfolds overseas, we are to "live our lives and hug our children."

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. "Freedom itself is under attack," Bush said, and he's right. Americans are about to lose many of their most cherished liberties in a frenzy of paranoid legislation. The government proposes to tap our phones, read our email and seize our credit card records without court order. It seeks authority to detain and deport immigrants without cause or trial. It proposes to use foreign agents to spy on American citizens. To save freedom, the warmongers intend to destroy it.

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. America's "new war" against terrorism will be fought with unprecedented secrecy, including heavy press restrictions not seen for years, the Pentagon has advised. Meanwhile, the sorry history of American imperialism -- collaboration with terrorists, bloody proxy wars against civilians, forcible replacement of democratic governments with corrupt dictatorships -- is strictly off-limits to mainstream media. Lest it weaken our resolve, we are not to be allowed to understand the reasons underlying the horrifying crimes of September 11.

Ratner, a constitutional scholar, said:

Treason need not involve another state. Aaron Burr was tried for treason. The authority given by these memos that could be used to raid every congressional office, raid and search every home, detain tens of thousands, would certainly fit a definition of treason.
This would be the president making war against the institutions of the United States.

I can't wind up any better than Levich does:

Unlike 1984's doomed protagonist, we've still got plenty of space to maneuver and plenty of ways to resist.  It's time to speak and to act. It falls on us now to take to the streets, bearing a clear message for the warmongers: We don't love Big Brother.

Email for Senator Pat Leahy, the "Truth Commission": [address removed]


Jose Padilla in Military Custody

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