Thursday, October 13, 2005

War on Terror 1 -- Constitution 0 

Larry Beinhart: Fog Facts notes that the main casualty so far in the War on Terror has been the US Constitution:
The War on Terror does not catch terrorists, especially the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, and the people in charge don’t really seem to care. That’s with the expenditure of $200 billion in supplementary spending, over and above the normal cost of maintaining our military and intelligence operations. Let’s look at what they actually did, instead of what they spoke of. That would suggest what the real goals are.
The big, obvious thing that the War on Terror permitted was for America to make its imperial lunge. There were papers that made it clear that this was an administration goal, the most notable one posted at the Project for a New American Century, and there were statements too. Something more subtle also took place. It is quite dangerous and it is largely unremarked.
The War on Terror permitted the administration to put an end to the concept that everyone is equal before the law.
We suddenly have people who are beneath the laws. They are called terrorists and unlawful combatants. All it takes to make someone beneath the law is to denounce them. They then have no rights, no phone call, no lawyers. They cannot argue about what they’ve been called. They can be whisked off to a prison and held incommunicado and tortured. Or at least seriously abused. It appears unlikely that this could happen to you or I or your friends across the street. But with the end of equality before the law, there really is nothing to stop it. Except our belief that our leaders are all honorable men who would not abuse such power.
Along with the creation of a class that is below the law, there is also a new class that is above the law. The presidential legal staff, including Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee and John Yoo, came up with the theory that when the presidents puts on his commander-in-chief outfit, and acts in that capacity, he is not constrained by any laws. Not international law, not the laws of the United States, not by treaties and not even by the constitution. Furthermore, anyone that he commands to do things when he is wearing that costume, is also unconstrained by those limits, statutes and laws. They are all above the law.
In addition, we have created a three tier international system in which there are entire nations below the law: terrorist states, states the harbor terrorists and failed states. There is, of course, one nation that is above the law. That is the United States.

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