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20 Years: What Political Prisoners Can Expect in the Future

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The Bush administration has managed to carve out an illegal authority to pick anyone up off the street, lock us up incommunicado for at least a few years, and send us to trial knowing that, after what they did, we'd be pretty much useless in our own defense. Today's sentencing of Jose Padilla is not about Padilla. This is about you. After the next terror attack, it will be easy to include any bothersome political diarists, who keep raising inconvenient facts or whose words manage to rile people up against the gummint, when they sweep a few hundred American citizens suspected of harboring sympathies for the Taliban. If they're against the US goverment in time of war, who knows what else they did? Better lock them up.

Of course they'll be able to lie about you. You don't even have the right to see a lawyer, never mind defend yourself in the press. As long as the allegations are related to terrorism, and the gummint invokes Bush's doctrine of wartime powers in a war defined as having "no end," they can waterboard you, make you stand for days with a hood on, and all the things they might have done to Padilla.

Which we'll never know. Oh yes, by the way, you know those CIA tapes they are arguing about in the papers, with the interrogations of two Qaeda suspects? One of those suspects, al Zabayda, was the guy whose testimony linked Padilla to Al Qaeda and put Padilla away. Pretty important since even the JUDGE who sentenced Padilla said they didn't have any, like, real evidence.

This link between the lost CIA tapes and Padilla is one even the blogoshere has been remiss to make. The government said no one can prove Zabayda was tortured into linking Padilla. Guess not.

And by not making the link, we miss the real story. Not only did Bush assert the authority to make a vegetable out of you before you ever get a real trial. Not only was Padilla denied his Sixth Amendment rights for nearly four years. Now once you get your trial, it consists of a railroad job, with the charges having nothing to do with the original "dirty bomb"-type stuff.

Think it can't happen? Think of how people were looking at each other right after 9/11. On the subway no one could meet anyone else's eyes; that person could be a terrorist. We were afraid of each other. Think of the attacks on the mosques, the beatings-up of foreign-looking people reported in the newspapers every day. Not only will Americans tolerate your leftie dissident ass going off to Guantanamo. They'll cheer it.

The 17 Padilla was just sentenced to plus the 3 1/2 he did in military custody makes about 20. About the same is you'd get in a Gulag in communist Russia, and you'd never have half a chance to defend yourself. It's here. George Bush is still making speeches and talking happy talk about the economy, as if nothing had just happened.

The only answer: impeachment, to restore to rule of law and the Constitution. Forward this post and this newly revised website to every Republican relative or friend you know: "Impeachment is a Non-partisan Issue." Your life may depend on it.

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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on (more...)

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