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by William Hughes
Friday, Jul. 22, 2005 at 11:53 AM
Baltimore’s patriots defeated the invading British forces in the War of 1812-1814, at Fort McHenry. Yesterday, President Bush, ranted at the Dundalk Marine Terminal, across the harbor from the fort, urging the renewal of the draconian Patriot Act. Bush is our “Liar-in-Chief” and he’s ignorant of history. What’s next? A surveillance device implanted in everyone’s head?
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Baltimore, MD. - On July 20, 2005, President George W. Bush arrived at the Dundalk Marine Terminal, a sprawling 530 areas of 13 berths and huge container cranes located on the northern shores of the Patapsco River in the eastern section of this port city. He came to town to push for a Congressional renewal of his draconian, and deliberately mislabeled, “USA Patriot Act,” (1) and to also get in as many silly photo ops as he could.
Like in most of his Bush’s public appearances, it was set in a controlled format. The audience was packed with political hacks, like Maryland’s Republican Governor, Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., a clone of Newt Gingrich; and Baltimore’s clueless Mayor, Martin O’Malley, a supposed Democrat, who was giving his aide and comfort to this GOP propaganda stunt. There were also present a large contingent of law enforcement personnel. The latter were recruited by invitation only. It is becoming clearer every day that Bush, like the late President Lyndon B. Johnson before him, during the Vietnam War, (2) is reluctant to meet with ordinary American citizens. He generally prefers the military as an audience, since the chances are excellent that they won’t hiss at him at or walk out on any of his mindless spiels.
Just across the harbor from where Bush was ranting away about the need for stifling further the rights and liberties of Americans, stands historic Fort McHenry. It was there, back in September 12-14, 1814, that Baltimore patriots held back the British fleet which assaulted it in a massive bombardment of rockets that lasted throughout the night. The successful resistance of the British forces led Francis Scott Key to pen that immortal ballad, which later became our National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In fact, the ground that Bush was standing on when he was blabbering away about that stupid Patriot Act was only a mile or so from where local militiamen had held off the infantry and artillery of the British in a fight that was to later be known as the “Battle of North Point.” It is fair to say that Bush is totally ignorant of the history that I am now relating to you. (3)
The people of Baltimore, in 1814, fought and defeated the British Crown military forces because they had no intention of giving up their rights and liberties to any foreign power! Those “real” patriots would have rather died first than surrender! Today, Bush, our “Liar-in-Chief,” is a gross abuser of the powers of his office and of the U.S. Constitution. (4) He is slowly and surely taking the rights and liberties away from the people, not at the point of a musket, like the British had tried to do, but by pushing insidious laws, such as the Patriot Act, and by using fear of terrorism as his selling device. Remember the Reichstag Fire? (5) Unfortunately, the Republicans control the U.S. Congress and there are only a handful of sturdy Democrats who have fought Bush about enacting these kinds of oppressive measures.
On a related civil liberties front, Bush’s has given his henchmen the green light to literally repeal the Writ of Habeas Corpus! It is a writ so venerated, so ancient and so important to our freedoms that the Founding Fathers placed it in the U.S. Constitution itself. (6) Bush has consistently ignored its relevance by insisting in recent “enemy combatant” cases, like “Hamdi v. Rumsfeld,” (7) that he has the power to detain an American citizen indefinitely and without charges. Just the other day, Bush’s Solicitor General argued in the Jose Padilla case, (8) (which has been banging around the federal court system like a ping pong ball for years), that the President had the “emergency powers given to him by Congress a week after the Sept. 11th attacks [which] include the power to hold U.S. citizens as enemy combatants ‘outside’ of the traditional legal system.” (9)
Of all people, it was Justice Antonin Scalia, an arch-conservative, who got the importance of the writ right in the “Hamdi” case, in 2004. He wrote in his compelling dissenting opinion, “It is not the habeas court’s function to make illegal detention legal by supplying a process the Government could have provided, but chose not to. If Hamdi is being imprisoned in violation of the Constitution (because without due process of law) then his habeas position should be granted; the Executive may then hand him over to the criminal authorities whose detention for the purpose of prosecution will be lawful, or else must release him.” (7) In plain language, Justice Scalia was saying: Grant the writ or charge Hamdi with a crime! If he is charged with a crime, then his rights will be protected in a court of law by the services of a defense counsel, the presumption of innocence and the rules of evidence. Instead, Hamdi is headed for a dubious hearing before a military tribunal.
Bush’s gutting of Habeas Corpus is indeed a disturbing happening. The authors of “The Constitution and What it Means Today,” had this to say about this critical subject matter: “The Writ of Habeas Corpus is the most important single safeguard of personal liberty known to Anglo-American law. Often traced to “Magna Carta” itself, it dates from, at least, the 17th century, and it is interesting to note that the Constitution simply assumes, that it will be part of the law of the land...” (10)
Finally, keeping up with the temper of our demented times, P. M. Tony Blair, Bush’s Poodle, is preparing a database of “undesirables” who could be barred from entering the UK. For example, if some British bureaucrat doesn’t like your web site, you could easily make its list of “extremists” and never again be allowed to stroll through Hyde Park! (11) You can count, too, on the U.S., under the Imperial presidency of George W. Bush, Jr., of adopting a similar on even harsher measure, sooner rather than later. In fact, our database, a/k/a, “The No Fly Watch List,” is already active! (12) What’s next for Americans? A surveillance device implanted in everyone’s head?
3. “The Dawn’s Early Light,” by Walter Lord.
6. Art. 1, Sec. IX, (2), states, “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”
9. “Arguments Put Forth in Padilla Case,” by Andrew Zajac, Chicago Tribune, 07/19/05.
10. Edward S. Corbin’s “The Constitution and What It Means Today.”
© William Hughes 2005
William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (Iuniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at: email@example.com.
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