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With Senate Minority Leaders Like This, Who Needs Oppressive One Party Rule?

September 27, 2006

[Feel free to skip this post by scrolling down or clicking through to our usual Wednesday Bazooka Joe comic feature.]

This is from a New York Times article about the ‘handling of terrorism suspects’ legislation our leaders seem so determined to bulldoze through the process before they steamroll down the last stretch of the campaign.

Representatives and the White House were busy over the weekend tweaking the language here and there, to reach a “compromise.” You know, just some minor technicalities that don’t at all completely fucking change the meaning of key aspects of the bill:

In one change, the original language said that a suspect had the right to “examine and respond to” all evidence used against him. Mr. Graham and his colleagues in resisting the White House, Senators John W. Warner of Virginia and John McCain of Arizona, had insisted that the provision was necessary to prevent so-called secret trials. The bill submitted late Monday dropped the word “examine” and left only “respond to,” reviving complaints about secret trials, this time from Democrats.

In another, the original compromise said that evidence seized “outside the United States” could be admitted in court even if it had been obtained without a search warrant, a provision Republicans and Democrats agreed was necessary to deal with the unusual circumstances of seizing evidence on the battlefield.

The bill introduced Monday dropped the words “outside the United States,” which Democrats said meant that prosecutors could ignore American legal standards on search warrants within the country. The bill also broadened the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant, from anyone “engaged in hostilities against the United States” to include anyone who “has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” [New York Times: Deal Likely on Detainees but Not on Wiretapping — Emphasis added.]

But, this Times article makes no mention of the savaging of Habeas Corpus the legislation may well include, as testified to in this quote from The Christian Science Monitor:

But the deal [between the White House and Republican Senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham] did not affect a provision that critics say is a more fundamental threat to the rule of law and the nation’s reputation: a bid to strip federal courts of jurisdiction to hear cases brought by “unlawful enemy combatants” seeking to challenge their detainment. [Emphasis added.]

Are you, Dear Reader, comfortable with an expanded definition of “enemy combatant;” collection of evidence inside the US, but outside of American legal standards; and the shunting of Habeas Corpus? And with that question I mean to ask, are you comfortable giving that kind of power to not only the current group, but to any group of leaders who might take up the reigns of our government?

Your Montag will now be very clear about what I think of the proposed military tribunals: I don’t believe for a minute that detainees can get a fair trial through military tribunals. Compromise on this bill is not compromise. An opposition party would kill this legislation before the election, and start from scratch after.

As for the question posed at the top of this post? What does Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, have to say about this piece of [legislation]?

“We want to do this,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader. [NYT.]

I’m thinking the ‘conventional wisdom’ that guides national politics in this country has run its course, and needs to be replaced with — oh, I don’t know — actual wisdom?

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