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Bush's Political Prisoners

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Message Ron Fullwood
"Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage, and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you." -- Lincoln

They call them terrorists, but only 10 of the 455 Arabs and Afghans held by the U.S. at the Guantanamo Bay prison have been charged with anything. You would think that if the U.S. had the evidence against these prisoners they would bring charges against them.

All the Bush regime and the Pentagon wants is permission to kill these Gitmo detainees, legal-like. They caught them on the 'battlefield' and they want to finish the job. Hell, when they caught these men (and boys) our soldiers had tanks, airstrikes, shock and awe . . . to them, all of this ducking around the Courts is an insult to all of the force and manpower they put behind capturing these prisoners.

Their greatest fear is that these prisoners will get their shot at what we take for granted here in America: a free and fair trial, due process, access to evidence against them with the right to challenge with witnesses, protection against use of coerced confessions . . . and that there won't be enough evidence to hold these prisoners, even though the military would fall over themselves to vouch for their guilt.

That's why the Bush regime wants to set up a tribunal with limited access to whatever evidence they classify, no redress against coerced 'evidence', and limited access to counsel (if any). Democrats, and even some Republicans like Sens. John McCain and John Warner, want legislation that would still allow the men to be put on trial, but would guarantee the type of due process that the Court implied Bush's tribunal approach lacked.

Anne-Marie Lizi, president of the Belgian Senate, who headed a European inspection team to Gitmo, reported that out of the 455 prisoners held at the Cuban-based facility, only 30 to 40 "real" cases actually exist there. Almost 100 detainees have been determined eligible to be transferred back to their home countries, 16 were found 'eligible for release'

Last week, Bush visited New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon to attend memorials marking the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to posture and demagogue against Democrats using the tragedy as a backdrop.

Today, Bush will return to New York, where he will address the United Nations General Assembly after ducking all of their silly questions in the hall about Iraq this, Iran, that. As his administration continues to try bullying the international community to support their 'terror war', countries there are more than mindful of the unpopularity of Bush's proposals, even in his own country.

The prisoners the Bush administration approved the torture of had to be coughed up from CIA custody, after the Supreme Court ruling that military commissions must be explicitly authorized by Congress. They were going to put them in a roomful of military actors, posing as counsels and advocates for the prosecution and the defense. They tortured them pretty severely after they took them on their CIA's wild rendition tour - definitely illegal - and, they can't risk any of that coming out in discovery. Bush wants a closed 'trial' where 'evidence' would be presented in secret, without the ones we tortured (or their 'lawyers') having access to any of it; whatever there is of it.

Now the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, has ruled that they have to give these folks they've tortured, due process rights. In Bush's calculation, as soon as Congress acts to authorize the tortures he's already ordered committed on these and dozens of other prisoners, he'll feel comfortable going along with some sort of open-evidence type 'trial' that won't expose him to any jeopardy for violating the torture provisions of the Geneva Convention.

I know he said we wanted to protect agents in the field from prosecution. Didya like the line from his last news conference about "decent, honorable citizens who are on the front line of protecting the American people," wanting clarity so they could continue to torture on Americans. Bush was just talking about himself. "I'm the decent, honorable one. I'm protectin' you . . . and your FAMILY, (Matt Lauer)."

If you're talking to al-Qaeda, they want to know . . . because they sure aren't getting anything useful from the prisoners they captured years ago and tortured. The prisoner's memories are shot from the abuse and isolation. The witnesses they would have used in their trials have all been killed or are 'missing'. What Bush really wants from Congress is a law allowing his lawyers to use hearsay evidence - like making one of our military or government's finest, testify about something someone else told them - to convict these men they tortured, and possibly have them executed. You'll take the government and military's word for it all. . . won't you?

Bush wants from Congress is legislation that will make everything he's done so far - every law he's broken, every individual he's ordered abused, every individual he's ordered detained indefinitely without charges, every cover-up and hiding of 'evidence' he's authorized - completely and retroactively legal. That way Bush will be able to continue on with his 'terror war' and his spying on Americans. That way, he'll be able to keep his main political props in place at Gitmo as a hedge against his failure to follow through on capturing the 9-11 perpetrators identified in the military force authorization he claims gives him the power to ignore laws and the will of Congress.

It's just lousy politics that keep us bogged down in Iraq; the public to be pacified by a politically-motivated rumor out of the commanding officer's quarters promising a reduction in force by Christmas of a mere fraction of the numbers there; then revealed as a lie by the actions of defense chief Rumsfeld and Bush, both hiding behind 'conditions on the ground' as they continue to escalate the troop numbers with impunity.

It's the same politics which allows Bush to ignore Congress and their limiting laws as he pursues his political 'war on terror'. Bush moved his war campaign to the U.N. today to wave the bloody flag of his militarism in front of the world's representatives in an attempt to goad them into accepting and joining in his mindless bullying of any and all who he alone deems to be a threat. All of the consequences of his swagger and bluster is borne on the backs of the soldiers he sacrifices without any remorse at all for his cynical ambition and greed, and on the backs of those innocents who find themselves in the way of our military as Bush cavorts and conquers.

It's an inexcusable political ploy for Bush to hold these Afghans and Arabs in his prisons, indefinitely, without charges; as substitutes for his inability to capture the man our government says is responsible for the 9-11 attacks: bin-Laden, and his accomplices. It will be an inexcusable travesty of our democracy, and our system of due process of law, if Bush is allowed to bully Congress into passing legislation which retroactively covers his rear for his crimes against the detainees and allows him to continue his imperious reign without fear of any limiting reprimand or rebuke.
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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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