Senate proves we should fear ourselves

COMMENTDecember 2, 2011 

Mission Accomplished. The war on terror is over and Congress decided to hand victory to the terrorists.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to simultaneously shred the centuries-old Posse Comitatus Act, which prevents the use of American soldiers to enforce domestic laws, and habeas corpus, our fundamental right to challenge our detention by the government.

I could hear the echoing empty cries of the founding fathers' declaration of independence:

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury

During the most heated parts of the Senate debate, Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski were nowhere to be seen. They were back in Alaska, engaged in dueling photo ops.

On Tuesday, yet another military deployment ceremony took place here. The 4th Brigade Combat Team was preparing to leave for a year-long deployment in Afghanistan.

Thirty-five hundred souls were headed back into combat to fight for our freedom while our two senators missed three days of a genuine attack on our freedom: the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.

The Twitter feeds of our senators broadcast their activities: Begich rang a bell for the Salvation Army. Murkowski went to a play. Both senators spoke and posed for pictures at the deployment ceremony.

I would find it ironic, if it weren't so nauseating.

Even though Osama Bin Laden is dead and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are winding down, Sens. Carl Levin, a Democrat, and John McCain, a Republican, crafted a bill in secret, without a single committee hearing, that would expand the war indefinitely and bring the battlefield to America.

Section 1031 of the Bill extends the Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to encompass any individual who has supported terrorists or has ties to terrorist organizations or "associated forces" anywhere in the world.

The Senate figured that the president should be able to order any American to be held indefinitely as a terrorist, without formal charges, without evidence presented in open court, without a trial by jury and without a presumption of innocence. If you're accused of being a terrorist, well, good luck and good bye.

Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein warned her fellow senators, "What we are talking about here is the right of our government, as specifically authorized in a law by Congress, to say that a citizen of the United States can be arrested and essentially held without trial forever."

Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican, shot back with a fear-based tirade: "Do you not think al-Qaeda is trying to recruit people here at home? Is the homeland the battlefield? You better believe it is the battlefield." And now, thanks to Graham, Begich, Murkowski and the rest, America is indeed a perpetual battlefield. One where an accusation is as good as a guilty verdict.

I can't say I'm surprised. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama authorized the assassination of a U.S. citizen living in Syria who was suspected of being a terrorist.

Nor am I surprised that the moderate-pretending Murkowski would vote for this bill. And I guess I'm no longer surprised by Begich. I had hoped this debate would provide Begich an opportunity to shore up the tea party vote in his upcoming election. Alaska liberals like me and tea party people find common ground on at least this point: the Constitution has protected us for 235 years and we'd like to see that continue.

What happened last week is the elimination of due process and presumption of innocence. Congress is prepared to take away rights from American citizens that we granted to Nazis during the Nuremberg trials, rights that we granted to the Japanese who were later tried, convicted and executed for torturing Americans.

Justice Robert Jackson's words in his opening statement at Nuremberg were never more relevant, "... The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason."

Last week the U.S. Senate did what the Hitler couldn't do, and made Abraham Lincoln a prophet, "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."


Shannyn Moore can be heard weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on KOAN 1020 AM/95.5 FM radio. Her weekly TV show can be seen Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. on KYUR Channel 13.

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