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The Forever Wartime Powers Coup

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Sometimes I wonder if I'm speaking English.  What seems so crystal clear to me, and always did, is not reaching the man or woman on the street, going about shopping, going to work, taking the kids to soccer practice, whatever.  George Bush has declared wartime powers in a war he says has "no end."  What is it that folks aren't getting about this?

I know I'm a political junkie, and follow the game more closely than the average Joe.  But you don't need to be a sports nut to know when you've witnessed a history-making grand slam.  You don't need to know the game at the level of body language.  You know you've just seen something breathtaking.  Radical.  Record-breaking.  Never-before-witnessed-by-human-beings.

You don't have to be a Bush-hater.  What Bush has done changes the relationship between government and the people once and for all, no matter who's in charge.  Could be a Democrat.  Could be a Republican.  Could be none of the above.

Never again will you have what Thomas Jefferson called the "inalienable right" to a "speedy and public trial" by a jury of your peers.  Never again will you have the freedom from "unreasonable search and seizure."  The law of the land, the Constitution, is not the law of the land anymore.

When George Bush declared war on an enemy which, for the first time ever, cannot be seen, and never knows when he's beat, it should have set off alarm bells.  This new kind of war would require a very careful interpretation of wartime powers. Wartime powers allow the government to lock up Americans without charges or trial, as Roosevelt did to over 7,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII.  What saved them was the war was declared over. 

Hirohito signing a surrender aboard the USS Missouri was a pretty good sign that it was over.  Had that been the "war on terror," no ships, no planes, no groups of men with uniforms and rifles on that ridge over yonder, who you can see with binoculars, those Japanese-American civilians could be locked up in those concentration camps to this very day.

I smelled something fishy when Bush kept drilling us on how this was no "law enforcement problem."  No one said it was.  By elevating a bunch of jihadi thugs into the same class of enemy as Hitler's Luftwaffe and the Prussian officer corps, he opened the way to giving himself wartime powers.

The Taliban is gone from Afghanistan, except the ones we can't mop up because all our troops are in Iraq.  But the wartime powers in America stayed, and will stay forever.  Hmm.

When they picked up that kid Jose Padilla, an American on American soil, and said to him - you don't have rights, wartime powers and all - I thought, woekay now, that could be you, that could be me.  Maybe in the wrong place at the wrong time.  What is it people don't understand about where this is headed?

First Bush claims Wartime Powers Infinity, then he sets out using them on Americans.  Doesn't waste any time.  Padilla turned out to be about as dangerous as Laurel and Hardy, couldn't even fill out an "Al Qaeda application form" properly, the only so-called evidence the government had.  But now they can sweep you up, never tell anyone where you are, and keep you there forever, sure as day.  Padilla only got a trial after 3 1/2 years of isolation because Bush said he could have one.

When I rattle the impeachment cage, folks in all earnest, who might not even be for Bush, reply "there's nothing to impeach him for."  I have to ask: Am I the only one who saw that grand slam out of the ballpark and into the next county?  The park was packed to the scoreboards.  Look, the ball is still flying!

I've stopped using the Iraq War Lies reasons to impeach.  We are, as Simon Bolivar said, that "war-like" people "to the North."  There will always be wars, and those who come to believe their sons have died for lies will have their own accounting someday with George Bush. 

But we only have one Constitution.  Once it's mangled by Wartime Powers Infinity, it's gone forever.  For violating his oath to "uphold, protect, and defend the United States Constitution," and for subverting that Constitution by transparent means, I again call for the impeachment of George W. Bush.  Wow!  There's that ball, halfway to the moon!  And there's writing on it.  It says: Your Rights.

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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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