We're All Suspects

As our civil liberties disappear, where are the Democrats?

Gee whiz! How did I miss the hordes of messages to Congress from citizens outraged by the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which—as I and other reporters have detailed—is one of the most poisonous pieces of legislation against civil-liberties laws in our history? And this year, were there any marches, rallies, or even ads protesting the Protect America Act or Bush's executive order providing even more special powers for the CIA?

As for "internment camps," on August 8, 2002, The Wall Street Journal (in its news, not its editorial, pages) broke the first story that internment camps were already being planned. (For more, see my book, The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance, Seven Stories Press.)

Last year, buried in the 591-page Defense Appropriations Act—as civil- liberties watchdog John Whitehead and others have reported—the Republican-controlled 109th Congress, doubtless at the Bush/Cheney administration's behest, inserted a provision that (in Whitehead's words) allows the president "to declare martial law and use the military as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition' " that undermines public order. (Emphasis added.)

How much due process would these military-police roundups of suspected internal enemies give those prisoners? And how long will that military power be in effect domestically?

Has Geoffrey Stone forgotten James Madison's warning: "A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive, will not long be safe companions to liberty"?

Next week: more of how "strong" our civil liberties are in 2007.

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