Sun, 22 Jun 2003 21:27:57 GMT

‘Pretend You Live in America’. Jimmy Breslin: . I don’t know what Faris looks like or sounds like or what he thinks and what he… [Dan Gillmor’s eJournal]

Here is a link to the Breslin article. If we were reading about the USSR arresting a citizen, holding him incommunicado for 3 months, then detailing how this citizen had pled guilty to crimes, all the time holding him in secret, providing no public charges, providing no lawyer, keeping everything secret, we would rightly say that this was a sham and just a sign that the commuists were the worst sorts of leaders. I am sure many of the Russion people also felt that the government was simply trying to provide national security.

But what sort of America are we living in when a citizen can be treated thusly? Even if he is guilty as sin, the Constitution should not be so easily shredded. Our government can now ‘disappear’ ANY US citizen, not allow them ANY lawyer and do whatever the government wants to them for as long as it takes to get a confession, a plea or what have you. Simply say he is a terrorist. And our media cheers this on. We are rapidly becoming what we formerly hated. Star chambers are back. Power and intimidation by authority will not make us safer. Exactly the opposite. Simply look at Northern Ireland or the MIddle East.

The administration is on the wrong side of history on this. Fifty years from now, assuming we still have some sort of real representational democracy, these decisions will be viewed the same way the Japanese internments are now. It is similar to the Pope holding Galileo under house arrest until they got him to recant. Simply saying we were afraid is not an acceptable answer. Democracy requires courage. Only dictators provide security. We should be leading the world with the right way to deal with national security, not showing that secret detentions and secret courts are the way to do it. I am certain that these sorts of things will not be allowed to continue. Simply because someone IS guilty does not mean we can do whatever we want to get a plea out of them.