Erosion of Civil Liberties

Have you seen what they have done? There’s a presidential directive authorizing the trial of terrorist suspects by secret military tribunals, with no accountability and no review. Currently it’s allegedly limited to non-citizens (so at this point I’d recommend that non-citizens avoid entering the U.S. if at all possible). The justice department has detained some thousand or so people over the last two months as suspects or material witnesses, but won’t tell anybody who they are or how many have been detained and then released. There’s open discussion of using torture on suspects, or at least of extraditing them to countries where we know they’ll use more “rigorous” interrogation techniques than we might.

What have they done with the United States of America? Where have they taken it? It seems to be suddenly gone. We’re supposed to be a bastion of freedom, of individual liberty. Where has it gone?

It seems natural to associate these moves with the last election; the people in power really want to stay in power, and will do whatever it takes to achieve and retain it. The wraps have gradually been coming off over the last year. Each time, things turn out to be worse than I would have believed. I haven’t had a single good surprise on political issues since the election in 2000.

What can we do? The most important thing is to express our outrage to our fellow citizens, and make them understand how bad what’s happening is. There’s still a reasonable shot at having elections in 2002, and having the votes counted, or at least not distorted more than 10% or so. In this last election, the right-most candidate lost nearly every single time, across the country. So it’s not hopeless yet, by a long shot. But we have to fight the distortions of the language, the lies, the deceptions. Keep people seeing clearly to what is really happening. Understanding that no increase in security will be achieved by giving up essential freedoms; not even in the short run.

Hang in there. It’s tough times.