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Who Will Step Out Boldly?

By Debra Sweet 

This is truly a moment I must say, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention...."
 
The stunning plan Barack Obama slipped into his speech Thursday, a speech filled with "the rule of law," is PROLONGED, or PREVENTIVE DETENTION.
 
The President said he will "develop an appropriate legal regime" to indefinitely imprison people without charges based on what he thinks they might want to do, on their speech, or their associations. He admitted that there are people now detained who cannot be prosecuted because evidence against them is tainted by torture, or because there simply IS no evidence against them. He implied this could go on for a decade or more.
 
The Bush regime thought about this, but never tried it. This has never been done by the US in its history. What does it mean that Obama stated flatly that habeas corpus -- the right to know charges against you, and be able to defend yourself - will be indefinitely denied to a class of people?
 
Here are 2 key paragraphs of Glenn Greenwald's piece: “Facts and Myths about Obama's Preventive Detention Proposal.”
 
"It's important to be clear about what 'preventive detention' authorizes. It does not merely allow the U.S. Government to imprison people alleged to have committed Terrorist acts yet who are unable to be convicted in a civilian court proceeding. That class is merely a subset, perhaps a small subset, of who the Government can detain. Far more significant, 'preventive detention' allows indefinite imprisonment not based on proven crimes or past violations of law, but of those deemed generally 'dangerous' by the Government for various reasons (such as, as Obama put it yesterday, they 'expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden' or 'otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans'). That's what 'preventive' means: imprisoning people because the Government claims they are likely to engage in violent acts in the future because they are alleged to be 'combatants.' 
 
"Once known, the details of the proposal could -- and likely will -- make this even more extreme by extending the 'preventive detention' power beyond a handful of Guantanamo detainees to anyone, anywhere in the world, alleged to be a 'combatant.' After all, once you accept the rationale on which this proposal is based -- namely, that the U.S. Government must, in order to keep us safe, preventively detain 'dangerous' people even when they can't prove they violated any laws -- there's no coherent reason whatsoever to limit that power to people already at Guantanamo, as opposed to indefinitely imprisoning with no trials all allegedly 'dangerous' combatants, whether located in Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Western countries and even the U.S."
 
There was also plenty to be outraged about in Dick Cheney's blood-thirsty, fascist speech at the American Enterprise Institute. He meant to have the final word, clearly acts as if he's still in power, and is determined to set terms for Obama. While in California this week, I've talked to a number of people who heard Cheney's raving, and were relieved to hear Obama uphold the "rule of law." But check out the Youtube of Rachel Maddow on Obama's "two speeches." And David Swanson in: "Does Cheney Make Obama Look Good?"
 
The debate cannot be between Cheney's vision of permanent war for empire, unbounded by constitutional niceties like due process, and Obama's "re-branding" of the same. But I don't buy the argument that those of us who opposed the Bush program should now accept the Obama proposals, and not fight them, because Cheney is waiting in the wings.
 
The people, represented now by relatively and admittedly small numbers of us who are outraged, and see where this is going, have to come into the argument by taking a stand against US torture, indefinite & preventive detention, and soon, visibly. We need to bring more people with us, and not stop, given the stakes.
 
Right now, the demand to Release the Torture Photos and Prosecute the War Criminals is right on time. Where the US goes on torture is not yet decided, will be a central issue in the Obama presidency and the conduct of the "war of terror" occupying the people of the Middle East. We cannot depend on the courts to do the right thing. The US Senate has entered in, profoundly on the wrong side. See Dennis Loo: “Senate Votes to Block Release of [Torture] Photos for 5 Years”.
 
But there's a lot more here than the fate of the Guantanamo detainees, as profound a moral question for humanity as that is. I wrote about the appointment of Stanley McChrystal to lead the US occupation of Afghanistan. More and more is coming out on him. 
 
See Tom Engelhart, “Obama, McChrystal, and Expanding the War in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
 
1.  He's a protege of Rumsfeld, protected by Cheney, heading an assassination squad under the Joint Special Operations Command, which Seymour Hersh says is the shadowy assassination squad operating in Iraq as part of the surge. 
 
2.  When McChrystal was brought into Afghanistan two weeks ago, he was at an Oval Office meeting was held where Obama agreed not to release the torture photos.
 
3.  It's thought some of the photos being covered up are of abuse directly under McChrystal's command. 

 

 

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