July 4, 2004.
"The rule of law is dead.
And so it's come to this. The American people -- proud heirs of a bold revolutionary spirit now marking the 228th anniversary of its fiery eruption into the world -- have been reduced to thanking the robed Olympians on the U.S. Supreme Court for preserving a few crumbs of the nation's once-vast ancient liberties.
This week, the justices ruled that the unelected strongman they appointed president in December 2000 does not have the unqualified right to arrest people without charges and put them in a dungeon forever -- at least not without allowing his victims to float up briefly in some conveniently undefined judicial "process." Not necessarily "a regular civilian court," mind you -- maybe a military tribunal, the justices suggested helpfully. And the defendants will be presumed guilty unless they can somehow prove themselves innocent -- with only limited, government-monitored contact with their attorneys. But at least the Bushists will have to produce a scrap of paper now and then to justify their body-snatching operations.
Except, of course, for the countless people now being "disappeared" in secret CIA prisons around the world or "rendered" to the rape rooms and torture pits of Bush's foreign tyrant pals. These wretched souls fall entirely outside the scope of the Court's rulings, which apply only to those areas where the United States holds "territorial jurisdiction," such as Guantanamo Bay, legal website Scotus.com reports. Doubtless there will now be a mass dispersal of the Guantanamo captives to the CIA gulag and other foreign parts. In fact, the newly "sovereign" client state of Iraq -- run by the unelected CIA terrorist and ex-Baathist stalwart, Iyad Allawi, now busy preparing martial law for his "liberated" people -- could prove invaluable in this regard.
The Supremacists also upheld the L'il Commander's self-bestowed right to use his "enemy combatant" popgun -- a sinister novelty, wholly without precedent, which allows him to zap captives into a legal limbo where neither U.S. law nor the Geneva Conventions apply. But they did place some restrictions on how far Junior can spray his little zapper, apparently limiting it to those actually captured on a battlefield -- at least for now.
For this week's decisions are only a brief respite. The Court's barrage of complex, multilayered opinions left plenty of wiggle room for White House weasel-worders to continue their pursuit of unbridled presidential power. After all, the Regime has publicly defined the entire world as the "battlefield" of the war on terror. "Enemy combatants" are everywhere, and Bush's arbitrary power to bestow this mark of Cain on anyone he pleases was not rejected in principle by the Court, which practically begged the Regime's rubber stamps in Congress to come up with some "enabling acts" to sanctify the Leader's tyrannical longings. Bush's authoritarian claims will simply be slapped with a new coat of paint -- a nod to limited judicial review, some butt-covering legislation -- then trotted out again.
Still, at this advanced stage in the long decay of the American Republic, even a crumb of liberty is better than no liberty at all. The Court, jealous of its prerogatives -- and perhaps piqued at Bush's attempt to hog all the terrorist-bashing fun for himself -- has, temporarily and partially, hobbled the Regime's vigorous march toward 21st-century fascism. For this relief, much thanks. Of course, our gratitude might have been greater if the justices hadn't illegally foisted the tinpot tyrant on the nation -- and the world -- in the first place. Although they've now given their creature a light rap on the knuckles, Bush can hardly be blamed for following their example of partisan lawlessness.
Meanwhile, behind all the somber headlines and earnest commentary on the Court's decisions, behind the glittering public facade of august institutions locked in noble agon over constitutional principle, the Bush Regime's true reality -- the ugly world of "black ops" -- keeps grinding on unabated. Here, in this dank, subterranean realm, where drug-running warlords, private armies, silent assassins, mafia chieftains, terrorist gangs, heads of state and Establishment worthies all mingle in a fog of crime, collusion and double-cross, the law is a dead letter. Here, no courts challenge Bush's most brazen appropriation of unrestrained power -- the arbitrary, unchecked, unbalanced power to kill anyone on earth, without charges, without trial, without warning.
As we've reported here for years (since Nov. 2, 2001, in fact), just after the Sept. 11 attacks Bush initiated a series of executive orders giving himself the authority to order the death of anyone he deems a terrorist -- or even a "terrorist suspect." No hearing or evidence or notice is required for this dread judgment; there is no oversight, no appeal. In 2002, he extended this arbitrary license to kill to lower-ranking CIA agents, who can strike on their own initiative and even add targets -- including U.S. citizens -- to the hit lists without any presidential supervision, The New York Times reports.
This runaway murder racket is no secret; Bush himself openly boasted about it in his 2003 State of the Union address. After detailing the number of terrorists he had arrested, he laughingly told Congress that an unspecified number of other "terrorist suspects" -- just suspects -- "were no longer a problem." The assembled statesmen roared their approval. No public official, in Congress or the courts, has ever challenged Bush's breathtaking assertion of life-and-death sway over the entire world.
So yes, we're glad that the Supreme Court has put a few weak fetters on some of the more blatant aspects of Bush's rampant Caesarism. But the rotten state of the Republic -- its once-proud people scrambling for crumbs in the fetid mud of Bush's Murder Incorporated -- is not something any patriot can celebrate on Independence Day.
Jurisdiction in Padilla and Rasul Cases
Scotus.com, June 27, 2004
No Presidential Monopoly on War Powers
Scotus.com, June 27, 2004
Bush Has Widened Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists
New York Times, Dec. 15, 2002
Manhunt [Targeted Killing]
The New Yorker, Dec. 16, 2002
The Secret World of US Jails
The Observer, June 13, 2004
Secret US Jails Hold 10,000
The Independent, May 13, 2004
Secret World of U.S. Interrogations
Washington Post, May 10, 2004
US Torture in Afghanistan
The Guardian, June 23, 2004
U.S. Defends 'Stress and Duress' Tactics Used on Terrorism Suspects in Secret Overseas Facilities
Washington Post, Dec. 26, 2002
President George W. Bush: State of the Union Speech
The White House, Jan. 28, 2003
CIA Weighs 'Targeted Killing' Missions
Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2001
CIA Worked in Tandem With Pakistan to Create Taliban
The Times of India, March 7, 2001
Special Ops Get OK to Initiate It's Own Missions
Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2003
Bush's 'Apex' of Unlimited Power
Consortiumnews.com, June 15, 2004
Fugitive Gun-Runner Makes Good in Iraq
Antiwar.com, May 21, 2004
A US License to Kill
Village Voice, Feb. 21, 2003
Our Designated Killers
Village Voice, Feb. 14, 2003
The Enemy Within
The Observer, Oct. 27, 2002
US Ships al Qaeda Suspects to Arab States
Christian Science Monitor, July 26, 2002
The BCCI Affair
Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, December 1992
The Nation, May 19, 2003
Bush Gets Checked and Balanced
Salon.com, June 289, 2004
From Texas to Abu Ghraib: The Bush Legacy of Prisoner Abuse
Common Dreams, May 10, 2004
Drug War Led Bush Astray Before 9/11
Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2004
CIA Takes on Major Military Role: 'We're Killing People!'
Boston Globe, Jan. 20, 2002
A Tortured Debate
Newsweek, June 21, 2004
CIA Harsh Tactics On Hold; Extraordinary Interrogation Techniques Approved by White House
Washington Post, June 26, 2004
The Thirty Year Itch
Mother Jones, March 1, 2003
America's Secret Armies
US News & World Report, Nov. 4, 2002 issue
The United States Vs. John Poindexter
Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra Matters, August 4, 1993
CIA Admits 'Tolerating' Contra Drug Trafficking
Consortiumnews.com, June 8, 2000
Reporter's History of CIA-Afghanistan Link Chilling
Houston Chronicle, April 23, 2004
Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic
Chalmers Johnson, book excerpt, Verso Books, 2004
Afghan Warlords Killing at Will
The Age (Australia), Feb. 1, 2003
Afghan Military Tied to Drug Trade
Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 4, 2003
Warlords' Crime: Secrets of an Afghan Mass Grave
"Common Dreams, Feb. 9, 2004
Rule of the Rapists
The Guardian, Feb. 12, 2004
The Other War
The New Yorker, April 12, 2004