Democratic Underground

The Daily Whopper
The Thought is not Enough
November 28, 2001
by Jeremiah Bourque

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Ashcroft is worried about blacklisting the detainees now. He's worried that if he says who they are, that it'll violate their right to secrecy.

With all due respect, which frankly, these days, is not very much, it is not Ashcroft's bleeping job to worry about that. This is a request by Congress, otherwise known as the democratically elected body that the ENTIRE Executive Branch, not just the President, answers to. Once Congress demands names like this, it ought to be Congress' responsibility, and fault, if the names are leaked out. It is not Ashcroft's business to deny these names and to then, in the same breath, claim that the detentions are not secret.

Forget irony. This is satire. I'd like to know how someone is not being detained in secret if his lawyer does not know where he is (as such incidents have been reported in several portions of the media.)

It's not Bush's job to declare war because Congress refuses to.

It is not Bush's job to administer military justice.

It is not Rumsfeld's job to draft regulations for military tribunals.

These jobs all belong to Congress.

Yes, Congress. Yes, that Congress, which nearly impeached Clinton. Yes, that Congress, which has been reviled for cowardice, disrespected for ineffectiveness, renounced for its inability to get things done. THAT Congress.

Thinking of the greater good is not enough. There is a firm separation of powers in the Republic, and it is not being adhered to. That is a very, very serious problem, one caused by the Executive Branch's zeal.

It is not the President's job to try people. Anyone. For any reason. Anywhere. His right is to pardon, not to convict and sentence.

The Constitution's protections of due process were indended to apply to all persons having their liberty taken away by the Federal Government. Persons, not citizens. As non-soldiers, Taliban and Al Qaeda troops have every much a right to be tried in a civilian court as a normal American citizen. Read over that last sentence. I am not kidding. This is the law.

It is not the place of the Executive Branch to void portions of the Constitution that they do not like, citing the exigencies of war.

It is not the place of the Executive Branch to seize power from properly functioning civilian bodies (see: military tribunals in Hawaii, which were used for five years, and civilian courts deliberately closed down and tribunals used in their stead for normal law enforcement).

It is not the place of the Executive Branch to create military tribunals when not in a state of war and when such tribunals were not explicitly approved by Congress (which was the case in the saboteur incident).

It is not the place of the Executive Branch to treat any human being as someone who has no rights whatsoever.

It is not the place of the Executive Branch to decide that foreigners are to be denied due process.

These are not powers constitutionally and lawfully possessed by the Executive Branch. Some are arguably not deniable even by Congress, though most probably could be done for a limited time, citing the exigencies of war (which we are not in, officially and, more critically, lawfully). However, while what Congress could take away is unclear, it is very clear that the President has vastly exceeded his constitutional, legal, and moral authority.

The only remedy is for Congress to be encouraged, from the activist level on up (this means you), to take back its constitutional obligation, not merely a right or a freedom, but the obligation, to check and balance the lust for power of the Executive Branch.

That is their job.

No one can do it for them.

That is why it is utterly sickening for men like Ashcroft to claim they are doing Congress' job for it, and thus, should be unaccountable.

So much for upholding the laws he didn't like. That sure didn't last very long, did it?

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