From the archive, originally posted by: [ spaceandsound ]

We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives, only
to watch him use those acts to jail newspaper editors.

American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they wrote about America.


Olbermann Addresses the Military Commissions Act in a Special Comment
>      By Keith Olbermann
>      MSNBC Countdown
>      Wednesday 18 October 2006
>      We have lived as if in a trance.
>      We have lived as people in fear.
>      And now – our rights and our freedoms in peril – we slowly awake
> to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.
>      Therefore, tonight have we truly become the inheritors of our
> American legacy.
>      For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is
> in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of
> exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:
>      A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it
> claims to protect us from.
>      We have been here before – and we have been here before led here
> – by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.
>      We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the
> Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives, only
> to watch him use those acts to jail newspaper editors.
>      American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they
> wrote about America.
>      We have been here when President Woodrow Wilson insisted that
> the Espionage Act was necessary to save American lives, only to watch
> him use that Act to prosecute 2,000 Americans, especially those he
> disparaged as “Hyphenated Americans,” most of whom were guilty only
> of advocating peace in a time of war.
>      American public speakers, in American jails, for things they
> said about America.
>      And we have been here when President Franklin D. Roosevelt
> insisted that Executive Order 9066 was necessary to save American
> lives, only to watch him use that order to imprison and pauperize
> 110,000 Americans while his man in charge, General DeWitt, told
> Congress: “It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen –
> he is still a Japanese.”
>      American citizens, in American camps, for something they neither
> wrote nor said nor did, but for the choices they or their ancestors
> had made about coming to America.
>      Each of these actions was undertaken for the most vital, the
> most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.
>      And each was a betrayal of that for which the president who
> advocated them claimed to be fighting.
>      Adams and his party were swept from office, and the Alien and
> Sedition Acts erased.
>      Many of the very people Wilson silenced survived him, and one of
> them even ran to succeed him, and got 900,000 votes, though his
> presidential campaign was conducted entirely from his jail cell.
>      And Roosevelt’s internment of the Japanese was not merely the
> worst blight on his record, but it would necessitate a formal apology
> from the government of the United States to the citizens of the
> United States whose lives it ruined.
>      The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.
>      In times of fright, we have been only human.
>      We have let Roosevelt’s “fear of fear itself” overtake us.
>      We have listened to the little voice inside that has said, “the
> wolf is at the door; this will be temporary; this will be precise;
> this too shall pass.”
>      We have accepted that the only way to stop the terrorists is to
> let the government become just a little bit like the terrorists.
>      Just the way we once accepted that the only way to stop the
> Soviets was to let the government become just a little bit like the
> Soviets.
>      Or substitute the Japanese.
>      Or the Germans.
>      Or the Socialists.
>      Or the Anarchists.
>      Or the Immigrants.
>      Or the British.
>      Or the Aliens.
>      The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.
>      And, always, always wrong.
>      “With the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed
> and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously,
> and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?”
>      Wise words.
>      And ironic ones, Mr. Bush.
>      Your own, of course, yesterday, in signing the Military
> Commissions Act.
>      You spoke so much more than you know, Sir.
>      Sadly – of course – the distance of history will recognize that
> the threat this generation of Americans needed to take seriously was
> you.
>      We have a long and painful history of ignoring the prophecy
> attributed to Benjamin Franklin that “those who would give up
> essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve
> neither liberty nor safety.”
>      But even within this history we have not before codified the
> poisoning of habeas corpus, that wellspring of protection from which
> all essential liberties flow.
>      You, sir, have now befouled that spring.
>      You, sir, have now given us chaos and called it order.
>      You, sir, have now imposed subjugation and called it freedom.
>      For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of
> reasons.
>      And – again, Mr. Bush – all of them, wrong.
>      We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man
> who has said it is unacceptable to compare anything this country has
> ever done to anything the terrorists have ever done.
>      We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man
> who has insisted again that “the United States does not torture. It’s
> against our laws and it’s against our values” and who has said it
> with a straight face while the pictures from Abu Ghraib Prison and
> the stories of Waterboarding figuratively fade in and out, around him.
>      We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man
> who may now, if he so decides, declare not merely any non-American
> citizens “unlawful enemy combatants” and ship them somewhere –
> anywhere – but may now, if he so decides, declare you an “unlawful
> enemy combatant” and ship you somewhere – anywhere.
>      And if you think this hyperbole or hysteria, ask the newspaper
> editors when John Adams was president or the pacifists when Woodrow
> Wilson was president or the Japanese at Manzanar when Franklin
> Roosevelt was president.
>      And if you somehow think habeas corpus has not been suspended
> for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this:
> If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien
> or an undocumented immigrant or an “unlawful enemy combatant” –
> exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court
> hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this attorney general is
> going to help you?
>      This President now has his blank check.
>      He lied to get it.
>      He lied as he received it.
>      Is there any reason to even hope he has not lied about how he
> intends to use it nor who he intends to use it against?
>      “These military commissions will provide a fair trial,” you
> us yesterday, Mr. Bush, “in which the accused are presumed innocent,
> have access to an attorney and can hear all the evidence against them.”
>      “Presumed innocent,” Mr. Bush?
>      The very piece of paper you signed as you said that, allows for
> the detainees to be abused up to the point just before they sustain
> “serious mental and physical trauma” in the hope of getting them
> incriminate themselves, and may no longer even invoke The Geneva
> Conventions in their own defense.
>      “Access to an attorney,” Mr. Bush?
>      Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift said on this program, Sir,
> and to the Supreme Court, that he was only granted access to his
> detainee defendant on the promise that the detainee would plead guilty.
>      “Hearing all the evidence,” Mr. Bush?
>      The Military Commissions Act specifically permits the
> introduction of classified evidence not made available to the defense.
>      Your words are lies, Sir.
>      They are lies that imperil us all.
>      “One of the terrorists believed to have planned the 9/11
> attacks,” you told us yesterday, “said he hoped the attacks would
> the beginning of the end of America.”
>      That terrorist, sir, could only hope.
>      Not his actions, nor the actions of a ceaseless line of
> terrorists (real or imagined), could measure up to what you have
> wrought.
>      Habeas corpus? Gone.
>      The Geneva Conventions? Optional.
>      The moral force we shined outwards to the world as an eternal
> beacon, and inwards at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.
>      These things you have done, Mr. Bush, they would be “the
> beginning of the end of America.”
>      And did it even occur to you once, sir – somewhere in amidst
> those eight separate, gruesome, intentional, terroristic invocations
> of the horrors of 9/11 – that with only a little further shift in
> this world we now know – just a touch more repudiation of all of that
> for which our patriots died — did it ever occur to you once that in
> just 27 months and two days from now when you leave office, some
> irresponsible future president and a “competent tribunal” of lackeys
> would be entitled, by the actions of your own hand, to declare the
> status of “unlawful enemy combatant” for – and convene a Military
> Commission to try – not John Walker Lindh, but George Walker Bush?
>      For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of
> reasons.
>      And doubtless, Sir, all of them – as always – wrong.
> *************
>      National Yawn as Our Rights Evaporate
>      By Keith Olbermann
>      MSNBC Countdown
>      Wednesday 18 October 2006
>      New law redefines habeas corpus; law professor explains on
> “Countdown.”
>      On Tuesday, “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann talked to Jonathan
> Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington
> University about a new bill signed by President Bush that redefines
> the right of habeas corpus.
>      Read the transcript below.
>      History does not play well at this White House. Expressionless
> faces would probably greet references to how John Adams ended his
> political career by insisting he needed the Alien and Sedition Acts
> to silence his critics in the newspapers, or how Franklin D.
> Roosevelt’s executive order to seize Japanese-Americans during World
> War II necessitated a formal presidential apology eight presidents
> later.
>      But even so, somebody probably should have told President Bush
> that today was the exact 135th anniversary, to the day, that
> President Grant suspended habeas corpus in much of South Carolina for
> the noble and urgent purpose of dispersing the Ku Klux Klan and
> making sure the freed slaves had all their voting rights, neither of
> which has yet truly occurred. It is your principal defense against
> imprisonment without charge and trial without defense thrown away for
> no good reason, then and now.
>      Our fifth story on “Countdown”: President Bush, happy Habeas
> Corpus Day.
>      First thing this morning, the president signed into law the
> Military Commissions Act of 2006, which does away with habeas corpus,
> the right of suspected terrorists or anybody else to know why they
> have been imprisoned, provided the president does not think it should
> apply to you and declares you an enemy combatant.
>      Further, the bill allows the CIA to continue using interrogation
> techniques so long as they do not cause what is deemed, quote,
> “serious physical or mental pain.” And it lets the president to
> ostensibly pick and choose which parts of the Geneva Convention to
> obey, though to hear him describe this, this repudiation of the
> freedoms for which all our soldiers have died is a good thing.
>      President Bush: This bill spells out specific, recognizable
> offenses that would be considered crimes in the handling of
> detainees, so that our men and women who question captured terrorists
> can perform their duties to the fullest extent of the law. And this
> bill complies with both the spirit and the letter of our
> international obligations.
>      Olbermann: Leading Democrats view it differently, Senator Ted
> Kennedy calling this “seriously flawed,” Senator Patrick Leahey
> saying it’s, quote, “a sad day when the rubber-stamp Congress
> undercuts our freedoms,” and Senator Russ Feingold adding that “We
> will look back on this day as a stain on our nation’s history.”
>      Outside the White House, a handful of individuals protested the
> law by dressing up as Abu Ghraib abuse victims and terror detainees.
> Several of them got themselves arrested, but they were apparently
> quickly released, despite being already dressed for Gitmo.
>      To assess what this law will truly mean for us all, I’m joined
> by Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George
> Washington University.
>      I want to start by asking you about a specific part of this act
> that lists one of the definitions of an unlawful enemy combatant as,
> quote, “a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment
> of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an
> unlawful enemy combatant by a combatant status review tribunal or
> another competent tribunal established under the authority of the
> president or the secretary of defense.”
>      Does that not basically mean that if Mr. Bush or Mr. Rumsfeld
> say so, anybody in this country, citizen or not, innocent or not, can
> end up being an unlawful enemy combatant?
>      Johathan Turley, George Washington University Constitutional Law
> Professor: It certainly does. In fact, later on, it says that if you
> even give material support to an organization that the president
> deems connected to one of these groups, you too can be an enemy
> combatant.
>      And the fact that he appoints this tribunal is meaningless. You
> know, standing behind him at the signing ceremony was his attorney
> general, who signed a memo that said that you could torture people,
> that you could do harm to them to the point of organ failure or death.
>      So if he appoints someone like that to be attorney general, you
> can imagine who he’s going be putting on this board.
>      Olbermann: Does this mean that under this law, ultimately the
> only thing keeping you, I, or the viewer out of Gitmo is the sanity
> and honesty of the president of the United States?
>      Turley: It does. And it’s a huge sea change for our democracy.
> The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the
> good graces or good mood of the president. In fact, Madison said that
> he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could
> not do harm, because we didn’t rely on their good motivations.
>      Now we must. And people have no idea how significant this is.
> What, really, a time of shame this is for the American system. What
> the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially
> revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.
>      It couldn’t be more significant. And the strange thing is, we’ve
> become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. I mean, the Congress
> just gave the president despotic powers, and you could hear the yawn
> across the country as people turned to, you know, “Dancing with the
> Stars.” I mean, it’s otherworldly.
>      Olbermann: Is there one defense against this, the legal
> challenges against particularly the suspension or elimination of
> habeas corpus from the equation? And where do they stand, and how
> likely are they to overturn this action today?
>      Turley: Well, you know what? I think people are fooling
> themselves if they believe that the courts will once again stop this
> president from taking over – taking almost absolute power. It
> basically comes down to a single vote on the Supreme Court, Justice
> Kennedy. And he indicated that if Congress gave the president these
> types of powers, that he might go along.
>      And so we may have, in this country, some type of uber-
> president, some absolute ruler, and it’ll be up to him who gets put
> away as an enemy combatant, held without trial.
>      It’s something that no one thought – certainly I didn’t think

> was possible in the United States. And I am not too sure how we got
> to this point. But people clearly don’t realize what a fundamental
> change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today
> changed us. And I’m not too sure we’re going to change back anytime
> soon.
>      Olbermann: And if Justice Kennedy tries to change us back, we
> can always call him an enemy combatant.
>      The president reiterated today the United States does not
> torture. Does this law actually guarantee anything like that?
>      Turley: That’s actually when I turned off my TV set, because I
> couldn’t believe it. You know, the United States has engaged in
> torture. And the whole world community has denounced the views of
> this administration, its early views that the president could order
> torture, could cause injury up to organ failure or death.
>      The administration has already established that it has engaged
> in things like waterboarding, which is not just torture. We
> prosecuted people after World War II for waterboarding prisoners. We
> treated it as a war crime. And my God, what a change of fate, where
> we are now embracing the very thing that we once prosecuted people for.
>      Who are we now? I know who we were then. But when the president
> said that we don’t torture, that was, frankly, when I had to turn off
> my TV set.
>      Olbermann: That same individual fell back on the same argument
> that he’d used about the war in Iraq to sanction this law. Let me
> play what he said and then ask you a question about it.
>      President Bush: Yet with the distance of history, the questions
> will be narrowed and few. Did this generation of Americans take the
> threat seriously? And did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?
>      Olbermann: Does he understand the irony of those words when
> taken out of the context of this particular passage or of what he
> perceives as the war against terror, and that, in fact, the threat we
> may be facing is the threat of President George W. Bush?
>      Turley: Well, this is going to go down in history as one of our
> greatest self-inflicted wounds. And I think you can feel the judgment
> of history. It won’t be kind to President Bush.
>      But frankly, I don’t think that it will be kind to the rest of
> us. I think that history will ask, Where were you? What did you do
> when this thing was signed into law? There were people that protested
> the Japanese concentration camps, there were people that protested
> these other acts. But we are strangely silent in this national yawn
> as our rights evaporate.
>    >    ——-

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