By Dan DeWalt
Has the "land of the free and home of the brave" decided to roll over in fear and concede defeat to terrorism?
George Bush's "war on terror," supinely backed by a cowed Congress of Democrats and Republicans, re-introduced torture to the American playbook, finished what Bill Clinton started in taking away our right to habeus corpus, made illegal wiretapping routine and built a culture of fear in our national psyche in order to keep us from rising up against these assaults on our Constitution. Barack Obama has continued these practices and gone further with his obsession with drone attacks worldwide, including strikes that murder American citizens without even bothering with indictments, let alone trials, and with his further expansion of wiretaps, secret government and police spying and repression of Constitutionally protected protest.
Now, in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt, we're being told that there are a couple of new aspects to this "new normal" that we'll just have to get used to. Functional martial law--the shutting down of an entire metropolitan region -- has now happened without even an official declaration from the governor or the president. Our 4th Amendment right protecting us from unwarranted search and seizure no longer has any meaning if the powers that be deem it inconvenient. And the right to be told that we can remain silent rather than incriminate ourselves under interrogation is now optional, again at the discretion of the police authorities.
Let's examine these two new nails in the Constitution's coffin. During the manhunt, Boston and federal authorities, backed by National Guard troops and possibly private mercenaries (who were observed, though never officially acknowledged, working at the scene of the marathon), locked down the city, ordering residents to stay inside while police officers ignored the fourth amendment and entered any house at will in their search.
It is argued by government officials and an eager-to-cooperate corporate media that the bombingwas an extraordinary event requiring special measures. Sure, an allegedly dangerous man was on the loose. Yet many an armed and dangerous man has been on the loose before, and we have never before seen fit to jettison constitutional rights during the capture process. (Only recently a far more dangerous man, a rogue LAPD cop and military veteran trained in the use of dangerous weapons had announced his intention to murder many police and political figures and was on the loose, but there was no martial law declared during that manhunt.)
Now that the second Boston bombing suspect has been captured, we are told that he was intentionally deprived of his Miranda rights to remain silent and have an attorney present before he was questioned -- for 16 hours -- by a crack FBI interrogation team while under sedation and in serious condition locked to a hospital bed.
This wholesale violation of his basic Constitutional right against self-incrimination was based on an already flimsy "national security" executive order signed in secret in 2010 by Obama -- an order which unconstitutionally permits ignoring the Miranda warning if society is deemed to be in imminent danger. Legality of that order aside, in the Boston case, however, the very fact that authorities waited patiently for the suspect to regain consciousness and some level of coherence gives the lie to the notion that anything other than a constitutional breach occurred, even assuming the executive order were valid.