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Light on the Hill to Eye of Sauron

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While I doubt that the United States was ever quite the "Light on the Hill" as romanticized, we did once stand for some things that were worth being proud of. There were times when - even in war - we held ourselves to an ethical standard that was respected. During World War II, German soldiers had no fear of surrendering to U.S. troops, because they knew they would be well treated. How did the U.S. turn into some version of Mordor with the "light" now the "eye of Sauron?"

Who would have thought that the United States would stoops so low that an ally - Italy - would try 26 Americans for kidnap and torture? Italy is trying 26 people from the CIA, and six Italians for the kidnapping of Abu Omar - a Muslim cleric from Italy. The U.S. will not turn over the Americans to Italian authorities, so they are being tried in absentia. The trial is focused on the Bush's "extraordinary rendition" program.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dick Marty's report for the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights - Secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states: second report - has been released (6/07/07). The 72 page report pulls no punches on the United States rendition program, nor on the CIA's international prison system. It starts bluntly enough:

"1. What was previously just a set of allegations is now proven: large numbers of people have been abducted from various locations across the world and transferred to countries where they have been persecuted and where it is known that torture is common practice. Others have been held in arbitrary detention, without any precise charges leveled against them and without any judicial oversight - denied the possibility of defending themselves. Still others have simply disappeared for indefinite periods and have been held in secret prisons, including in member states of the Council of Europe, the existence and operations of which have been concealed ever since.

2. Some individuals were kept in secret detention centres for periods of several years, where they were subjected to degrading treatment and so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" essentially a euphemism for a kind of torture), in the name of gathering information, however unsound, which the United States claims has protected our common security. Elsewhere, others have been transferred thousands of miles into prisons whose locations they may never know, interrogated ceaselessly, physically and psychologically abused, before being released because they were plainly not the people being sought. After the suffering they went through, they were released without a word of apology or any compensation - with one remarkable exception owing to the ethical and responsible approach of the Canadian authorities - and also have to put up with the opprobrium of doubts surrounding their innocence and, right here in Europe, racist harassment fuelled by certain media outlets. These are the terrible consequences of what in some quarters is called the "war on terror.""

Welcome to the neoconservatives's America. Where once we stood for freedom and justice, we now stand for preemptive war, torture, and ghost prisoners. The new United States requires a debate on the Senate floor over whether to reinstate Habeas Corpus - the right upon which all other Constitutional rights rest. Of course, one has to wonder about allowing it to be removed to start with.

While Guantanamo has raised outrage with the holding of people indefinitely, "military tribunals," secret evidence, and the full intention to imprison people potentially for life, at least some pressure can be brought to bear. But when you have secret prisons with people kidnapped, and disappeared ... what have we allowed ourselves to become?

It seems the United States has become a rogue state. It was not enough to be an empire - it had to be an evil empire. Of course that evil is not just directed outward. Our own Constitution has been ripped to shreds while the remnants of infrastructure have either been hollowed out, or converted to corporate hand maidens. Meanwhile, the seeds of the next imperial surge are being laid - the placement of political hacks across the civil service and even in the Department of Justice. Hacks whose only qualification is a sworn allegiance to Bush and the neoconservative cause.

The Bush cabal, and the elite they represent, know that they are likely to lose the White House in 2008. In fact, they probably hope to head for the shadows while the fallout of the nuking of democracy and the economy falls on the heads of the Democrats. Then, they will swoop back in with players already in place for the ongoing stripping of whatever bones of the U.S. remain.

The question remains whether the people of the United States have the will to really become the Light on the Hill, or if they are willing to accept living and dying for Mordor.

Articles of Interest
First CIA rendition trial opens

CIA jails in Europe 'confirmed'

The war on terror: Inside the dark world of rendition

Italy Trial of C.I.A. Operatives Opens

Report Gives Details on CIA Prisons
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Rowan Wolf is an activist and sociologist living in Oregon. She is the founder and principle author of Uncommon Thought Journal, and Editor in Chief of Cyrano's Journal Today.

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