Current Observations Home Current Observations Home Current Observations Home

The Reason Why

Friday, September 08, 2006

Yesterday, I did a write-up review of Sen. Specter's bill titled, "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Improvement and Enhancement Act of 2006." (S. 3001) While at work, I mentioned my post to a customer and invited him to read it. He's a Conservative and staunch Bush supporter. We have talked many times about various issues including warrantless wiretapping and the unitary executive doctrine (among other topics). He remarked that I seem to be "stuck" on what I perceive to be government violating my rights to privacy and property. He said that every time we discuss politics, it seems that our conversation ends up with us discussing the government's violation of our rights. He doesn't see the same problem that I do, and believes that I'm making mountains out of mole hills.
After we parted company, I reflected on his comments and wondered to myself why it is that I take such offense to what seems to be a direct attack by our government on the rights of American citizens. More specifically, why do I feel threatened by the government eavesdropping on my phone calls, or picking me up off the street and rendering me to some far-away prison outside the United States, or having all my banking transactions recorded, stored forever in some government-funded database.
Then it occurred to me that I had made a distinction that others had not. By others, I mean those who see no problem with sending alleged terrorists to Gitmo, and not affording them the same rights as the accused in the United States; the same people who don't have a problem with the U.S. military rounding up and carting off to prison male villagers in Afghanistan or Iraq with the hope that they netted a few terrorists in their sweeps. The distinction that I made is that some of those caught up in the net we cast may be innocent while others see everyone as guilty. They figure--without reason--that the justice system will eventually spit out the innocent among them. They have so much faith in our legal system that no innocent person could ever be held for very long before their identified and released.
I, on the other hand, understand that this line of reasoning is flawed from the start. The system that they rely on is so heavily distorted, that once you're caught up in that net, you have almost a zero chance of having your case brought before a court, let alone being charged with any crime. How can a man not charged with any crime start the process to defend himself? He can't. How can he file a writ of habeas corpus when his jailers won't even acknowledge that he's being held?
This is why I am so adamant about the protection of our most basic rights. I'm really not concerned with those that are guilty and are being held; its the ones who are innocent, who are being held against their will and can't get relief. Those are the ones I fear for. Those are the ones in the situation where the greatest harm is done by our government. They are the ones who truly understand what it means to be oppressed by a tyrannical government.
Further, I voice my opposition to government's infringement of our rights through this blog. I write about subjects most people deliberately avoid. I have friends that do the same, and I fear that either I or they will find themselves chained to the floor of some far off prison; held incommunicado. I fear a government that embraces and condones these types of actions as being necessary to protect its citizens from the nefarious acts of others. A government who's wretched actions are indistinguishable from those committed by it's enemy needs to be stopped.
For you nay-sayers in the crowd who say that innocent people cannot be caught up in this need to shut your mouths for a moment and listen up. Imagine for a moment that you're riding in a bus, headed for your vacation destination. You come to a roadblock where the bus is stopped by the authorities and all the passengers are questioned and searched. Now imagine that for some reason, you're singled out for extra questioning. They confiscate your luggage and take you to their headquarters. After the additional questioning, agents from the CIA arrive to take possession of you and your belongings. You're whisked away to a foreign land where you eventually end up in a prison camp. Months pass as you're repeatedly tortured. All the while, you plead with your captors to be brought before a judge so that you can plead your innocents. Every plea is met with the same response--denial. Let this sink in... you're an innocent man being held god-knows where by captors who couldn't care less if you live or die. This, dear reader, is what I fear for myself and my fellow citizens.
Sadly, this event actually happened. Though the details are slightly different, the plot of the story is still the same. Quoting from this CBS/AP article:
Khaled El-Masri, who is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, said he was arrested while attempting to enter Macedonia for a holiday trip and flown to Afghanistan. During five months in captivity he was subjected to "torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," says a lawsuit he filed in U.S. District Court in suburban Alexandria, Va.
"...Throughout my time in the prison, I asked to be brought before a court but was refused. Now I am hoping that an American court will say very clearly that what happened to me was illegal and cannot be done to others."
Why do I write about abuses by my government? It's examples like Khaled El-Masri's. Events like his should never happen under our country's system of laws. This type of abuse only happens when the long-standing rule of law is short-circuited by allowing those who are too impatient for justice to run its course to have their way.
Who is to blame for this? Most assuredly, the blame lay with those who run our government; but, to some degree, the blame lay also with each of us for not stopping this.


Blogger Mark said...

I don't know about you, but it took me a long time to come around to libertarianism. I argued with it in my mind for years before I was convinced. And I still ask questions. So don't give up talking to people about it. They won't transform instantaneously. The hope is that, over time, they may come around.

7:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger |



Who Links