27 July 2009
On Oct. 23, 2001, less than 6 weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, the US Justice Department wrote a memorandum justifying the use of the military on domestic soil. The memorandum was already declassified last March, but only a couple of days ago it became known that in 2002, top Bush administration officials actually considered using this document to justify the deployment of American troops on US soil.
Notably former Vice President Dick Cheney pushed for using the military to arrest a group of men in Lackawanna, near Buffalo, who were suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda. His chief opponent was Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser. Reason for the debate was concerns about not having enough evidence to arrest and successfully prosecute the Lackawanna six.
Mr. Cheney argued that less evidence would be needed to declare them enemy combatants, in which case they could be send to military prison. Also, this course of action wouldn't have to be limited to the Lackawanna six. (meaning it could also be applied to you) Everybody suspected of being part of a terrorist group would be stripped of their civil rights by designating them enemy combatants. Not innocent until proven guilty, no lawyer, no public trial.
In the summer of 2005, Mr Cheney told Republican Senators that President Bush would veto the annual defense spending bill if it contained language prohibiting the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by any U.S. personnel.
In the fall of 2005, Mr. Cheney proposed that Congress legally authorize "enhanced interrogation methods" (aka torture). However, Congress did not, as this would violate some of the most basic human rights. (hurray for Congress)
In June 2009, Cheney (now way past deserving the title Mr.) admitted "enhanced interrogation methods" had been used anyway.
So, in Cheney's United States, the government should be able to use the military to round up citizens suspected of membership of a terrorist organization, ship them to a military prison -foreign or domestic- strip them of their legal rights, deny them trial and torture them for information.
Exactly how would this differ from an Afghanistan run by The Taliban, an Iran run by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an Iraq ran by Saddam Hussein, even a Germany run by Adolf Hitler? On 21 May 2009, Cheney, speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, said: "no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things."
If that really is the case, what then separates us from them?
Just take a moment and imagine what the world might look like today if President Bush had died in office.
How close to oppression we still are, after centuries of freedom.