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Boiling Point (Mickey Z.)

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Tace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 11:03 AM
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Boiling Point (Mickey Z.)
Eroding Freedom: From John Adams to George W. Bush

Mickey Z. -- World News Trust

Oct. 12, 2006 -- Put a frog into a pot of boiling water, the well-known parable begins, and out that frog will jump to escape the obvious danger. Put that same frog into cool water and heat the pot slowly, and it will not react until it's too late. The survival instincts of a frog, we're told, are better designed to discern abrupt changes. Gradual transformation -- like the measured raising of water temperature -- can sneak up on the little croaker.

I was reminded of the proverbial frog as I considered how the recently passed Military Commissions Act (MSA) managed to get lost in a shuffle of naughty e-mails and bipartisan accusations. This isn't meant to downplay the MSA. As Michael C. Dorf, a professor of Law at Columbia University, explains: "It immunizes government officials for past war crimes; it cuts the United States off from its obligations under the Geneva Conventions; and it all but eliminates access to civilian courts for non-citizens --i ncluding permanent residents whose children are citizens -- that the government, in its nearly unreviewable discretion, determines to be unlawful enemy combatants." Nasty stuff, indeed... but since fiddling with human rights has long been a hobby for America's power elite, it'd be misguided to assign all the blame to the current administration. The erosion of freedom has been a slow steady process -- not unlike boiling a pot of water.

President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Act in 1798. Under this ugly bit of legislation, I might've received a fine "not exceeding $2,000" and/or "imprisonment not exceeding two years" simply for writing an article such as this.

Woodrow Wilson got his own Espionage and Sedition Act in June 1917. Here's a sample of that law: "Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military or naval forces of the United States, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 20 years, or both."

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