Andy had written to suggest I write a pithy July 4th post, this year. While I don't want to disappoint him, OTOH, the best we can say is that "recent events" are mildly encouraging. The two remaining major presidential candidates are, at least rhetorically, committed to restoring the prevalence of the rule of law in the conduct of our military affairs (and in particular, stopping the practice of torture). Still and all, one of them, alas (Sen. McCain, you know who you are) seemed to express "disagreement" with the Supreme Court's Boumediene decision, which simply recognized that a right heretofore recognized since 1215 was not arbitrarily circumscribed by 911.
In any event, here we are on 4 July 2008. Were I to write these words in 1998, it would be assumed I was either writing sci fi fantasy, or perhaps describing some other country. But the United States government now asserts the divine right to read our mail (including especially e-mail), listen in to our telephone conversations, monitor our financial transactions, and when politically expedient in certain cases, detain us without counsel or charge, forever. And that's just for citizens and legal resident aliens. For non-citizens and "illegals", all of the above, plus, of course, "enhanced interrogation methods," or, as the United States government called it before 911 changed everything, "torture".
Maybe I should list some of the grievances of the American colonists as expressed in July 1776 in some Declaration they wrote:
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. [signing statements anyone?]
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Just saying. Happy 4th, everyone.
President King George III may not be listening to us, perhaps someone is. Today, former Sen. Jesse Helms died, at 86. [Propriety dictates that if one has nothing good to say about someone, one should say nothing.]
one correction. We use "enhanced interrogation".... oh what the heck let us call it what it is on this 4th of july, "torture" on our citizens too... let us not forget Mr. Padilla.
Posted by h.candace gorman at July 4, 2008 11:42 AM
Candace makes an excellent point. And we can add Mr. Lindh, and Mr. Hamdi, and Mr. al-Mari (a lawful resident), and God knows who else.
Posted by the talking dog at July 4, 2008 11:48 AM
Happy July 4th, TD and family, and all who remember that the US was founded on the rule of law, and not to serve the whims of a self-elected dictator, who would've been much happy staying in Crawford for the last 8 years, and his dangerous associates - primarily "Dark Side" Dick, who even shoots his friends in the face, and his Chief of Staff, the the salt-and-pepper-bearded Addington, whose disdain for democratic principles, though rarely unveiled publicly, is truly disturbing to behold.
Have fun today. You're in the right. And you're not alone.
Posted by Andy Worthington at July 4, 2008 3:29 PM