Bill of Rights, We Hardly Knew Ye

If there’s any comfort to be taken from today’s defeat of the “habeas corpus” amendment to the detainee bill it’s that only one Democratic Senator, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted with Senate Republicans to defeat the bill. William Branigin of the New York Times reports:

Senators voted 51 to 48 against the amendment, which called for deleting from the bill a provision that rules out habeas corpus petitions for foreigners held in the war on terrorism. The writ of habeas corpus, which is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, allows people to challenge in court the legality of their detention, essentially meaning that they cannot be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

Regarding the detainee bill itself — 32 out of 44 Senate Democrats voted against the bill. According to Glenn Greenwald, the 12 are Carper (Del.), Johnson (S.D.), Landrieu (La.), Lautenberg (N.J.), Lieberman (Conn.), Menendez (N.J), Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor (Ark.), Rockefeller (W. Va.), Salazar (Co.), Stabenow (Mich.).

Of that group I am most disappointed in Frank Lautenberg, who usually is on the side of liberalism.

Glenn Greenwald comments:

But it is still difficult to understand the Democrats’ strategy here. They failed to try to mount a filibuster because they feared being attacked as coddlers of the terrorists. But now they voted against the bill in large numbers, thereby ensuring those exact accusations will be made anyway — and made loudly (the White House already started today). Yet they absented themselves the whole time from the debate (until they magically appeared today), spent the last several weeks only tepidly (at most) opposing the President’s position, and thus lost the opportunity to defend and advocate the position they took today in any meaningful way. As a result, the Democrats took a position today (opposition to this bill) which they have not really defended until today.

They make this same mistake over and over. Isn’t this exactly what happened when they sort-of-supported-but-sort-of-opposed the Iraq war resolution in 2002 because they were afraid of being depicted as soft on terrorism, only to then be successfully depicted as soft on terrorism because they were too afraid to forcefully defend their position? It’s true that fewer Democrats voted for the President’s policy this time around, but it’s equally true that they found their voice only on the last day of the debate — on the day of the vote — after disappearing for weeks while they let John McCain “debate” for them.

Several liberal bloggers had predicted the McCain et al. “compromise” was just a head fake to keep the Dems off guard, and that in the end Bush would get the bill he wanted. The Wise Guys in Washington have yet to figure this stuff out.

Dan Froomkin:

Today’s Senate vote on President Bush’s detainee legislation, after House approval yesterday, marks a defining moment for this nation.

How far from our historic and Constitutional values are we willing to stray? How mercilessly are we willing to treat those we suspect to be our enemies? How much raw, unchecked power are we willing to hand over to the executive?

The legislation before the Senate today would ban torture, but let Bush define it; would allow the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant; would suspend the Great Writ of habeas corpus; would immunize retroactively those who may have engaged in torture. And that’s just for starters.

It’s a red-letter day for the country. It’s also a telling day for our political system.


23 thoughts on “Bill of Rights, We Hardly Knew Ye

  1. It’s time to get vitupritive and foul mouthed, oh you who actually care for the foundational principles of our civilization.

    But let’s not waste time. We need to figure out who has standing to challenge this bill as unconstitutional.

  2. Stogie—

    There’s no court to appeal this to. The Supreme Court may or may not rule in favor of our inalienable rights. But Bush won’t respect any court ruling that’s against him.

    Nope. At this point, it’s up to We The People.

    Our Republic died today. If we want it back, we need to establish that WE WILL NOT COOPERATE with this illegal and illegitamate government. If we do, there aren’t enough tanks in the world to stop us.

    If we don’t, we will live under the dictatorship we deserve.

  3. Stirring words, Publicus, but do you have any practical suggestions that won’t get me declared an enemy of the state and disappeared?

  4. Well, on the bright side.. we won’t have to send the suspects to Syria to be tortured anymore. They can do it in the basement of the White House. Who knows, maybe Rummy will get to pluck out an eyeball or break some poor souls hump on the strapado.

  5. Publicus-

    I think that one would need to do a lot of legwork to spark off the revolution. I’m on your side on this. However, I’d prefer to exhaust legal procedures before storming the bastille. If anything, public, peaceful airing of our grievances can only strengthen our case.

  6. I watched the entire ‘habess corpus’ amendment vote today and was proud to be a democrat (shame on Bill Nelson). If only two more republicans had the balls to follow the oath that they took to uphold the Constitution we might now be able to hold our heads high as Americans. Predictably, Democrats would lose every amendment to Bush’s proposed legislation and predictably, the Republicans would sell their souls in order to have access to the ‘big bed’.

    However, I am just learning of the final vote and am distressed to learn that even one democrat would vote for this bill, let alone twelve. Shame on them. Twelve votes by democrats is twelve votes too many. For shame, for shame.

  7. Twelve Democrats voted in favor of the Senate bill: Tom Carper (DE), Tim Johnson (SD), Mary Landrieu (LA), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Joe Lieberman (CT), Bob Menendez (NJ), Bill Nelson (FL), Ben Nelson (NE), Mark Pryor (AR), Jay Rockefeller (WV), Ken Salazar (CO), and Debbie Stabenow (MI)

    One Republican, Lincoln Chafee (RI), and the lone independent, Jim Jeffords (VT), voted against the bill. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) did not cast a vote.

    Is this the Democratic Party, we should support?

  8. Is this the Democratic Party, we should support?

    The only alternative I see is abandoning the bleeping country to the wolves. If that’s what you want to do, fine; but I’m not ready to give up.

  9. Another smackdown, another concession, another piece rubbed out of the Constitution. I will not give up, and I will always keep hope in my heart, but it gets more and more difficult to keep plugging away. When we surrender the basic human rights upon which the country was founded, then we are lost.

    Throw me a bone, Dems! We the people need to know that you’re really doing everything you can to stand up for our rights! Pick a leader we can get behind, make your voices heard above the white noise of the Republicans. We will do what you ask of us, just give us something we can hang our hats on again.

  10. Perhaps the Bush administration should cast their minds back (if they have minds) and remember why Europe and America banded together to fight communism and Naziism. It was not because they were the other tribe, or because MacDonalds wanted to open a branch in Moscow. It was because those forces had no respect for individual human rights or liberties, because they tortured and because they believed they had the right tell the world what to do down the barrel of a gun. That was how the enemy was defined. That was why they were the enemy in the first place.

    That is the reason why Europe is allied with the USA in the first place. If that common moral ground is now declared null and void by America’s elected representatives, that alliance is now built on sand. If this law is not challenged, not revoked, the US is no more the natural ally for liberal Europe than China or any other pseudo-democracy which tortures people on a presidential whim.

    How can any ally possibly have a relationship of trust with a government that officially and openly claims the right to ‘disappear’ its citizens from their sovereign territory, torture them, and imprison them permanently without any public justification or representation?

  11. We must resist the new dictatorship. If we are truly Americans, we will.

    I am not talking about violence. Violence is wrong and violence always loses against facism. I’m thinking we act like the Czechs—they defeated their dictator through visible non-cooperation.

    We deploy peace and freedom against violence and dictatorship. In a battle of wills, IF we have the will—we can win…easily.

  12. Pingback: The Heretik : The Scream

  13. In the final wash of this obscene action, we will find that the real reason for this legislation has been to protect the butts of the torturers/lawbreakers of the Bush team. Their immediate plan was to write this legislation while the administration criminals have enough friends in the Congress…..but their long-term hope is that the inevitable justice branch constitutional and legal reviews will undo what the Congress has just done BUT leave the bits in about amnesty regarding the criminal behavior of those who brought this disgrace upon America.

  14. Where are the organized protest groups? I want to do as much as I can to get this administration and its co-conspirators (republican and democrats) out of Washington!

  15. What we really need is a protest against dictatorship. Unfortunately, for the moment, this “” group is the best we can do…

    I sure something better targetted to what we all want—restoration of our republic and constitution—will appear soon.

  16. Someone needs to point out that this long, incremental, downward spiral into the putrid pits of increasingly fascistic outrages, war based on a tissue of lies, and everything else one could mention…was greatly enabled by the American People themselves by being good sheeple in the face of the ‘election’ fiasco of 2000. The ’04 ‘election’ has been shown to be every bit as fraudulent and what was done about it?
    American society has clearly demonstrated, for many years, an undimished capacity to swallow The Big Lie while chasing it down with a big swig of denial. For snacks there is always the delicious delusion that somehow their votes, which are quite obviously manipulated or negated all together…will change matters significantly when the two major parties to ‘choose’ from are virtually two sides of the same bogus coin anyway.
    Third parties and charasmatic leaders don’t look to be the answer either as they seem to fizzle out or end up dead before their time. It may also be observed that the present situation is but a reflection of what the people have stood by and allowed or denied for many years before this particular odious wrecking crew came along.
    If there is any hope at all, it surely must rest upon a truly massive recognition of the collective resposibility that has led to the deep abyss the country teeters at the edge of…and that has to be somehow then translated into even more massive demonstrations of People Power. The ‘revolution’ ain’t gonna happen until there is one in the MINDS of a huge, united majority of people willing to put themselves on the line.
    The ‘United’ look to be too divided and far too comfortable with the avoidance of resposibiltiy and accountabilty to pull this one off…..

  17. Maha, if we don’t participate in organized protests, how do you propose we affect the change that we know is badly needed? I am not particularly fond of the idea of protesting, but at a loss as to how not to feel so powerless at this point.

  18. There is no particular curse on third parties. They have been formed regularly from the disaffected of one of the major parties in this county. It is correct that most have failed miserably. But one example much to the contrary is the 1854 founding of the Republic party.
    The Republican party is a “third” party that has morphed twice into the Dixiecans of today. First, of course, it was formed of disaffected Whigs who had created a “third” party to combat the Jacksonian Democrats who in turn were a “third” party taking Jefferson’s Democratic Republicans to an extreme Jefferson, accused of being a terrible radical during his presidency, found too radical to stomach in his old age.
    The Republican party, on hard times in the 60s, morphed into the Dixiecan party taking over the Democratic franchise on segregation in the Solid South and turning the South in a generation from overwhelmingly and reliably Democratic (if not exactly democratic) to Republican.
    Our quarrel is with the temporizing, quaking, money-grubbing elements of the Democratic party. Our war is with the Republicans who would once again dissolve our Union, not state by state, but right by right. And those Republicans are a solid majority of their party.
    Our quarrel may lead to morphing the Democratic party into a third party. Or it may lead to reform of the Democratic party. Either way is fine, but it will have to wait until we have some protection against the bully boys who would rob us blind while pillaging the Constitution.
    I think this is too great a country to dissolve once again into a great Civil War, although I know which side I will be on if it does. I also am optimistic that the corrupt cowards who rule us now do not have the stomach to rule with an iron fist of fascism. While malignant, they are incompetent, as we see again and again. While they can win elections, they have very little interest in governing once they win. Iraq was an election ploy more than anything else, and these bastards have no idea what to do about it now, not that they cared much about the outcome of anything but the 02 midterms and the 04 election in any case.
    It is their incompetence, not their malignancy, that will prevent any fascist takeover. That and their cowardice. Remember that all of the top GOP dogs (with the exception of Naval ROTC peacetime carrier pilot Rumsfelt) ducked any war they might have served in while proclaiming their patriotic manhood.
    Take heart. They have none.

  19. There is no particular curse on third parties. They have been formed regularly from the disaffected of one of the major parties in this county. It is correct that most have failed miserably. But one example much to the contrary is the 1854 founding of the Republic party.

    The Republican Party is an anomaly. It ascended into the #2 position after the breakup of the Whigs; in effect, there was only one viable national party at the time. So, the two-party system still held.

    Over the years there have been a number of third parties that managed to get presidential candidates on a national ballot, but none had any effect except to split votes and help the least popular guy get elected. And they all collapsed after an election cycle or two.

  20. Much has been regarding the torture, but let’s face it, the USA has been doing that for quite some time. Whether or not it’s justified, or even right or wrong is a question that most of us really can’t answer. But the parts of this bill that are most troubling is that The Cheney Menstruation has sole authority to determine who is an unlawful combatant. What the fuck, that could be some lowly blogger, who could end up in Camp Gitmo, being tried with”secret evidence”. Even more troubling is that these fucktards are also given the power to determine what torture is or isn’t. Trust me, this bill isn’t so much about the “war on terror” as much as it is about controlling the masses once they wake the fuck up and realize that slowly and surely we have ended up being governed by a fascist regime, rivalled by none in the recent history of the world. It’s an insurance policy for the impending revolution, pure and simple. Halliburton is already building massive prisons in anticipation of massive unrest, but that’s something for a different post.

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