A Magna Carta Sales Event!


Sotheby’s to sell a raggedy-ass copy next month in New York City. Habeas corpus not included.

With the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment’s momentous move toward a pre-emptive strike on Iran, now’s as good a time as any to sell off the Magna Carta. As everyone can see, George W. Bush has poked enough holes in it to reduce its value.

In our era of take no prisoners, but if you do, hold them unlawfully at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and various torture chambers around the world — new AG Michael Mukasey is bound to agree and, more importantly, he’ll be much more effective at running that game on us than Alberto Gonzales was. So it makes sense to peddle this piece of civil-liberties paper to the highest bidder.

In December, Sotheby’s plans to do just that in New York City. The privately owned copy, dated 1297, is expected to fetch $20 million to $30 million — undercoating included. But after the past seven years of the Bush-Cheney regime’s erosion of the ancient document’s key provision on habeas corpus, the question is whether it’s worth the vellum it’s scrawled on.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s appearance in New York City coincides perfectly with the attempt by war hawks Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl to push us into a pre-emptive strike on Iran. Rapping the Iranian ruler’s knuckles was so easy that it was bound to stir up the populace and take their minds off the tragedy in Iraq.

The New Yorker‘s Seymour Hersh wrote years ago about the current administration’s thirst for Persian blood, and various Israeli officials have beat those drums too.

That’s all we need: another war to produce more prisoners whose rights of habeas corpus we can deny.