- Repealing the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (18 US Code 1385 and 10 USC 371-78 you can figure out how to read the sections in between,) which criminally forbids use of the military, except in extremely narr ow situations, for civilian law enforcement.
- The Citizen Corps and the TIPS hotline, which would create an enormous domestic intelligence system out of ordinary civilians, specifically exempt from oversight laws which limit and allow exposure of gove r nment abuse (including whistleblower protection and the Freedom of Information Act)
Anyone over 30 (and attentive people over 23 or 25) should recognize these kinds of government power as the same things common in East Bloc nations during the Cold W ar. Yeah, the things we as a free people used to rail against during the Bad Old Days.
There's been a thread about this on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5. Joe Straczynski wrote a good piece about it today. You can get at the whole article and thread through dejanews. This is the important part:
We endured two world wars and one cold one. We faced the greatest military war machine in human history, with their own agents in this country as we had agents in theirs. We beat them by hewing to the ideals and the standards and the laws that had propelled us to that moment out of history in the first place.>
The moments we look back at in shame are the moments when we *diverged* from our sense of justice, as with the Japanese internment camps.
Let's take a good, hard look at what we're facing here. For all the announcements to come out of the administration, we have had no further attacks on American soil, and the one attack we DID have consisted of a handful of individuals wielding *box cutters*. That's it. We're talking freakin' exacto-blades here. They used our own technology against us.
This could have happened at ANY point in time prior to that moment. It could have happened during the Korean war, the Vietnamese conflict, the Gulf war...all you need is X number of guys with the will to do it. We are not in any more danger now than we were then.
We have ALWAYS been vulnerable to such things because we are a free society, and there are an awful lot of people pissed off at us for a variety of reasons.
Not ONE really credible threat ha s been exhumed since 9/11. The "dirty bomb" bit turned out to be just a *discussion* about such things, so that even Ashcroft had to backpedal.
The Al Queda structure has been severely weakened by the actions in Afghanistan (or so we are told), the hostiles in this country (not yet proven but I'm willing to believe they're here) are small in number...is all this worth throwing the Constitution away, the same Constitution that served us through the Civil War, in which over 100,000 US citizens died, in which brother could not trust brother?
(Yes, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeus corpus for some of that time, and there were other abuses, but we recognize them now AS abuses. If we see that it was wrong then, why repeat the error?)
The admi nistration says we are at war, and therefore must sacrifice our rights. But in fact we are NOT at war. There has been no declaration of war from congress.
Is the solution to detain American citizens in military cells without right of attorney (even if they are lowlifes like Padilla)? Is the solution to dealing with maybe a few dozen dangerous guys (and there have ALWAYS been dangerous guys in this country, anybody who thinks otherwise is nuts) to have a million people acting as informants and spies on other American citizens through TIPS? Is the solution, as Ridge and Bush are now advocating, to use the military to make arrests in violation of the Posse Comitatas act?
No. The solution, the alternative to dealing with the problem you ask for is the one we've had for two hundred years. A nation with laws, and oversight, and checks and balances.
If we sacrifice that, then the country we hand to our inheritors won't be worth the struggle we endured to maintain it.