United States lawmakers are trying to push through legislation of such a disheartening nature that I don’t even know how to finish this sentence about it.
Glenn Greenwald is far more articulately concerned about this than I have the capacity to be. In essence, the proposed bill will give some people even more power than they already have to attack, kidnap, and imprison anyone they want from anywhere in the world.
They justify this by the abstract rhetorical trick of insisting that the former individuals be labelled as “US government agents”, and the latter as “Terrorists”.
Senator Lindsey Graham in particular spoke of the importance of allowing the US military to target and indefinitely detain “these guys” – referring to, among others, American citizens who’ve not had any formal charges made against them. He said:
If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re not going to be given a lawyer.
The implication to these words is that, even if being thrown in Gitmo and forgotten about were a suitable fate for those accursed terrorists who wish America ill, it would somehow be less important, not more, that we pay attention to due process, and lines of evidence, and all the things that the people who created the USA put in place to make damn sure that we only lock up the right people.
Apparently, when it comes to that most heinous crime of offering “substantial support” to forces “associated” with Al Qaeda or the Taliban, the very fact that suspicion has entered the mind of US military officials should be all the proof of guilt that it’s reasonable to require.
Maybe this doesn’t sound so bad to you. Maybe you’re willing to trust the upper echelons of government, when they say that for reasons of national security they can’t tell you how they know that somebody has terrorist connections, and must be held captive indefinitely with no access to any legal recourse for your own safety. Maybe this sounds like a reasonable way to treat those who hate America, and the idea that these laws might ever be abused against those who don’t deserve it is entirely academic.
If that’s the case, then please imagine the next couple of paragraphs slowly fading out as I back carefully away from you.
Incidentally, lest you suspect this is just those warmongering Republicans doing their usual schtick, note that the Obama administration’s main objection to the bill seems to be that they want “to remove the language in the original bill which exempted American citizens and lawful residents from the detention power”. As it initially stood, it didn’t give enough tyrannical privilege for the liking of the Democrats in charge.
I think democracy may have officially jumped the shark. Or perhaps I’ve just finally got around to noticing.