On August 2nd, 1934 Paul Von Hindenburg died and chancellor Adolf Hitler became the absolute dictator of Germany, under the title of “Furor,” or “leader.” He assured his people that the Third Reich would last for a thousand years. It was going to be the beginning of a thousand years of peace. This is the same kind of “peace” that George W. Bush is promoting – if there is a war in the Middle East – war will bring about peace.
“Mankind has grown strong in external struggles and it will only perish through eternal peace.” – Adolf Hitler
Of course Hitler’s Reich only lasted eleven years. The reason I think that that anniversary is of particular consequence is that the main way that Hitler achieved power, held power, and made his country insane, was by essentially setting aside the rule of law. People were driven insane, because they were followers of the insane personality cult of Hitler. The passage of the Enabling Laws (see: “Wake Up and Smell The Fascism", July 2nd) shortly after the Parliament building was burned by a 28 year old Dutch communist.
There is still debate about whether or not this man had help from Hitler’s guys – the brown shirts. He probably did. He had tried to set several buildings on fire prior to the successful attempt to burn the Parliament.
After this event, Hitler said, “There are enemies among us, and we have to change the law.” It was a tool that Hitler used brilliantly. He passed the Enabling Laws through parliament that said that the rule of law of democracy in Germany that had been set up after WWI would be modified. The government could now tap telephones without going through a court, if they thought it had to do with terrorism. You don’t have a right to a trial. You don’t have a right to face your accuser. The government could use hearsay against you. They could open your mail without a court order, and you could be held without charges without bail if you were suspected of terrorism.
These laws so concerned the German Parliament, that they put a four year sunset provision on them. In other words if the state of emergency passed, (i.e. the terrorist attack on the Parliament building) then the laws would expire. The parallels between the Enabling Act in Germany and the Patriot Act are absolutely spooky to anyone who has actually read and studied both of them.
Now the Bush administration wants to take it to the next step. This was in the Washington post on August 2nd, the anniversary of Hitler’s rise to power. I am amazed that this wasn’t a screaming headline on every newspaper and every network. It should have been everywhere, but I didn’t see it in any other newspapers that day.
In the Washington Post, buried on page 4, was an article by R. Jeffrey Smith, entitled
"White House Proposal Would Expand Authority of Military Courts." It reads, “A draft Bush administration plan for special military courts seeks to expand the reach and authority of such "commissions…" (First of all, they are renaming these things. They are no longer courts. They are commissions.) “…to include trials, for the first time, of people who are not members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban and are not directly involved in acts of international terrorism, according to officials familiar with the proposal.”
Do you get this? This is a draft plan of circulating around congress right now, around Republicans, saying, “We’re going to change the rules of the game. Yes, we’ve had this thing called the Constitution for 230 years, but time to throw that out the window. After all, it’s a post 9/11 world, and so we don’t need this ‘you have the right to face your accuser’ stuff. We don’t need this ‘you have the right to make bail.’ We don’t need this ‘you have a right to a speedy trial.’ We don’t need this ‘you have the right to know what you’re charged with.’ We don’t need this stuff.”
They want to apply the rules of Guantanamo to you and me!
“The plan, which would replace a military trial system ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June, would also allow the secretary of defense to add crimes at will…”
In other words, Donald Rumsfeld can simply make up a law. For example, he can say, “It’s now illegal to call George W. Bush a “dufus,” and if you break this particular law, you will be held before one of these “commissions.”
“The two provisions would be likely to put more individuals than previously expected before military juries, officials and independent experts said. The draft proposed legislation, set to be discussed at two Senate hearings today, is controversial inside and outside the administration because defendants would be denied many protections guaranteed by the civilian and traditional military criminal justice systems.
Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors.
Detainees would also not be guaranteed the right to be present at their own trials, if their absence is deemed necessary to protect national security or individuals.
John D. Hutson, the Navy's top uniformed lawyer from 1997 to 2000, said the rules would evidently allow the government to tell a prisoner: ‘We know you're guilty. We can't tell you why, but there's a guy, we can't tell you who, who told us something. We can't tell you what, but you're guilty.’”
(This is the Navy’s top lawyer for the last three years of the Clinton administration.)
“Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general during the Reagan administration, said after reviewing the leaked draft that "the theme of the government seems to be 'They are guilty anyway, and therefore due process can be slighted.' " With these procedures, Fein said, "there is a real danger of getting a wrong verdict" that would let a lower-echelon detainee "rot for 30 years" at Guantanamo Bay because of evidence contrived by personal enemies.”
“…Administration officials have said that the exceptional trial procedures are warranted because the fight against terrorism requires heavy reliance on classified information…”
They can even prosecute you for hearsay obtained under torture.
Is this the end of democracy in the United States?
If you’re a peace activist, this story must give you pause, because permanent brand new prisons are already opening Guantanamo Bay, just for people like you.
From the UK Independent, July 30th:
“Camp 6, a state-of-the-art maximum-security jail built by a Halliburton subsidiary, will be able to hold 200 prisoners. Commander Robert Durand, a spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said the $30m, two-story block was due to open at the end of September. He added: ‘Camp 6 is designed to improve the quality of life for the detainees and provide greater protection for the people working in the facility.’”
Welcome to Gitmo, Americans!