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It's Not Too Late
May 11, 2004
By Richard A. Stitt

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An Internet press release last week reported, "In one of the darkest weeks of his administration, President Bush saw America's reputation sullied, the U.S. effort in Iraq damaged and his own campaign for re-election clouded. And more bad news may be on the way."

How crass of the author of this piece to present the unfolding events in the "prisoner abuse" photographs as a critique on Mr. Bush's reelection chances, rather than the pathetic tableau that these events have become for our nation's security and honor.

The article goes on to compare the impact of the photographs released of the Abu Ghraib prison "abuses" with some of those taken during the Viet Nam War, one of which was a naked girl running from a napalm attack. Another photo which had great impact showed a prisoner being shot in the head by his captor. These graphic images brought home to all Americans the tragedies and travesties of war and the horrible reality of the of the millions who were slaughtered over the duration of the thirteen years of that monstrous war and the fatalities of 58,000 US military.

What lessons we have learned from this cannot be consigned to military policy nor can they simply result in reams of new regulations and congressional recommendations on how to deal with prisoners in future wars which, if Bush is returned for another four years, will surely occur. After all, he is the self-described "war president."

The biggest lesson for all Americans is one which can be addressed and dealt with now. The lesson is this: The expanded executive and judicial powers contained in the USA Patriot Act and its companion, Patriot Act II, must be rejected. The only way they can and should be rejected is to jettison the entire arrogant and dictatorial Bush/Cheney anti-Constitutional government.

They must be replaced by one which hews to the precepts and laws set forth by our US Constitution and one which conforms to the principles set forth in the Preamble of the Constitution that asserts that self-rule resides with the people. It cannot remain totally in the hands of the current potentates who have ignored international laws such as those contained in the Geneva Convention accords, while shredding with total impunity our Constitutional rights and individual freedoms at home.

The lesson of self-rule must be reestablished in America. It must affirm that the fundamental law rests squarely upon a democratic foundation and that this framework is laid down to serve all the people, not the corrupt corporate autocrats whose proxies and surrogates now occupy the White House. No longer can the monarchial Bush advocates and apologists accuse their detractors of being only alarmists and skeptics. The facts are now there for all to see and judge. Like an approaching storm, the rain begins falling lightly, then slowly and steadily, it begins to fall harder until the deluge turns into a flood. Now G. W. Bush and his acolytes' attempts to pull cover over their heads cannot prevent their submersion. As I write this, even more horrific photographs of torture, humiliation and human indignities are about to be revealed to America and the entire world.

The foundations of the widespread and epidemic perversions against the Iraqi prisoners are based upon an executive edict which gives G. W. Bush unprecedented powers to declare all those captured prisoners as "enemy combatants" with absolutely no rights under US Constitutional or International laws. Now, the Bush administration and his Justice Department chief, John Ashcroft, have crafted yet more powers in their intractable demand to deny not only foreign prisoners' rights, but American citizens' as well.

The Department of Justice, for example, included in the USA Patriot Act a "sneak-and-peek" provision under Section 213 which allows law enforcement authorities to enter and search any citizen's home without a warrant. It is interesting to note that this provision of the PATRIOT Act was not limited to terrorism cases. But what better time to ram it through with no discussion, no debate or public awareness or its ramifications for civil liberties? It was a classic Bush tactic which exploits fear to advance the perverted belief in their own omnipotence and total control over the people. Nor was it made subject to the sunset provision that will cause most of the new surveillance provisions of the act to expire at the end of 2005 unless Congress reenacts them. So Section 213 was clearly a provision that the Department of Justice wanted regardless of the terrorism threat after 9/11.

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule on Mr. Bush's right to expand those powers and apply them to all US citizens. He alone will have unchecked authority to decide who is an enemy combatant who will be entitled to no more rights than those tortured prisoners in Camp Delta, Guantanamo, Cuba, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq or other prisons which could easily be expanded to meet the equivalency of an American Gulag.

In his review of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's book, The Gulag Archipelago, Hieromonk Seraphim states, "The free and easy life of the West is more conducive to sleep than to awareness... until the time comes when we too must face something like Gulag. Solzhenitsyn has told us in advance."

It is not too late to act, but time is running out on democracy the longer Bush/Cheney and their war hawks remain in power. Time is running out for our guaranteed rights and Constitutional civil liberties as Mr. Bush and his repressive, secretive and dogmatic regime have demonstrably, and graphically, proven.

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