by Tommy Ates
The vast new powers the federal investigators were granted
in the Counterterrorism Bill and the autonomy U.S. Special
Forces have been given in Afghanistan raise red flags on the
issues of civil liberties and the democratic process.
In the new anti-terror bill, non-citizens, regardless of
classification, can now be held indefinitely and with some
federal warrants, the charges do not have to be disclosed.
Since when do we to have to defend our country using Nazi
Gestapo techniques? Are our intelligence agencies that inept?
Of course, none will admit to being so; but how can the government
guarantee that "due process of law" will be upheld when this
bill undercuts many provisions provided of citizens and non-citizens
alike? We need checks and balances, not investigative power
Apparently, the policy of security jihad also extends to
the military as U.S. Special Forces have been given free rein
to attack and kill Taliban and al-Qaeda targets at will -
without government permission. How will they treat Afghan
teenage warlords? (They do exist.) Considering that about
80% of Afghanistan's population is under 18 years old and
is active in the military, I wonder if our government has
statistics on how many children they're killing? Doubtful,
since we have such trouble confirming anything the Northern
Alliance says as true.
I am not saying we shouldn't go after al-Qaeda. But if, the
name of "intelligence," we have to mow down everyone
who doesn't recognize us immediately as a friend in the field,
than one must wonder about the substance of our efforts. To
do the simple "kill them all" technique (in essence,
culling any opposition) is a bad idea which almost always
backfires, as those groups on the receiving end of our punishing
guerrilla strikes will see our foreign policy of a "peaceful,
democratic coalition" for what is: a trite ploy for nabbing
Osama bin Laden, or worse, a means getting oil from Baku,
Azerbaijan, via pipeline.
Most of all, no one should be able to kill randomly, hold
someone virtually hostage, or not provide information which
is considered by the American people as part of our "free,
inalienable rights." For the U.S. to succeed in this war of
justice, we must have a just war. That means, for once, doing
right by the detainees and the Afghanis that we abandoned
in the '80s after fighting the Soviets, not, as our military
honchos and the right have, excusing civilian deaths on the
terror mongers and the Taliban's denial of women's rights.
If our U.S. military cared so much, then where were these
people when the Taliban were taking power? Obviously, they
didn't care about their welfare then and I'm not sure the
powers that be do now. Cut the propaganda crap! If we don't
straighten up our act in this war, a quagmire is sure to follow
with the power vacuum left by the Taliban's fall.
Besides, the American people have another issue to think
about, war's aftermath. Did we act with valor and honor with
our second foray in Afghanistan, or was it "business
as usual" - death, destruction, then, desertion?
What will we say to the innocent detainee victims as the
federal government 'quietly' releases them? What will we tell
the Afghan people as civil war goes on, thousands dying, all
in the name of justice? Did they really die to make the world
a better place? Will we have a memorial or telethon to honor
their contribution to liberty or do they count at all?
Simply put, I am not comfortable with our freehanded and
reckless way power is handled and who is deserving of our
justice, or our wrath.
Also, with all this emphasis on patriotism streaming through
the airwaves, why isn't the American mainstream media covering
these issues? Must it only be foreign news outlets like the
BBC, showing the confusion and the destruction of this largely
covert war? Why can't we represent? Is it too dangerous to
speak out? Dissent breeds moderation and change; we must do
it to be Americans. And this quality should also extend to
our media. As for me, right now, I can't believe I am afraid
of my own government.