Sunday, October 29, 2006

Repeal the Imperial Presidency

News stories, editorials, and blog posts critical of the Military Commissions Act keep appearing. Now the Berks County, Pennsylvania, Democratic Committee has passed a resolution calling for the Act's repeal:
Whereas by allowing the suspension of habeas corpus the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is in violation of Article One of the Constitution,

whereas by allowing the commander in chief to make the determination on what constitutes torture the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is in violation of the Geneva Convention.

Resolved that the Berks County Democratic Committee urges Congress to immediately vote to repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and to pass a law that adheres to the Constitution of the United States and the Geneva Convention.
But this is only one part of the task.

For those of you who still don't think that the "Imperial Presidency" that Bush, Gonzalez, et al., are attempting to create is much of a big deal, take a look at this article on the revision of the Insurrection Act and the virtual repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act, via Section 1076 of the Defense Authorization Act for the Pentagon. Apparently not one senator noticed the seriousness of this vote, not even Senator Leahy of Vermont, who has since decided that it's worrisome. It was signed by Bush on the same day that the Military Commissions Act was signed, and gives Bush the authority to
declare a "public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."…The law also facilitates militarized police round-ups and detention of protesters, so called "illegal aliens," "potential terrorists" and other "undesirables" for detention in facilities already contracted for and under construction by Halliburton.
What it does is, in effect, repeal the Posse Comitatus Act, which protects the public from use of the military against it.

Ryland at a boy and his computer puts it nicely:
Why is this bad? It sounds reasonable on the surface - if there's a flood or a terrorist attack, and the local cops can't handle the resulting disorder, send in troops to help. But the Posse Comitatus Act already says that military troops cannot be used as cops, so what it really accomplishes is to allow the president to declare martial law for any reason, including to arrest and detain protesters. All he has to do is say that people protesting the war are causing a threat to order, and that the local cops can't handle it - bam, martial law. Bye-bye, free speech zones.

I'm seriously beginning to wonder if the mid-term elections coming up will be the last national elections we ever have.
Yep, Ryland, me, too. And it is our Congress that is handing these powers to the president on a silver platter, rather like the Roman Senate gave to the Caesar, and how the Reichstag gave to Hitler through the Fire Decree and the Enabling Act. But then, as Kate-A points out, posse comitatus was endangered quite a while ago:
State and Federal troops have been deployed domestically many times to enforce State and Federal "law".

The time to yell about "gutting" the Posse Comitatus was a long long long long time ago. Posse Comitatus has been ignored at the whim of any president who wanted to ignore it. The government is now officially stamping a smiley face on what government has always done.
Germany was a democracy in 1932, but the government gave dictatorial powers to Hitler, and that was all she wrote.

Looks like we're heading the same direction. Gee, thanks, Congress. (Don Young, yea; Lisa Murkowski, yea; Ted Stevens, yea)

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