Sunday, October 29, 2006

Warning Signs from the Military Commissions Act

Now that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is law, we need to really take a step back and see the dangerous path it leads us towards. It’s important to look and see what the MCA allows the President to do.

The most frightening provision is the suspension of habeas corpus for aliens and non-Americans. It doesn’t sound too bad, right? It should mean that the MCA won’t affect American citizens, right? However, if an American is arrested under this act, then their inability to invoke habeas corpus means that they cannot prove their citizenship because no one has to listen. They can simply disappear at the President’s whim. No man should have that kind of power in a democracy.

Furthermore, the MCA allows the President to hold “enemy combatants” for an indefinite period of time and choose when to use or ignore the Geneva Conventions. To me, this seems like a disturbing first step in what could be an unending string of restrictions on civil liberties.

How could this happen? For that answer, just look at our current do-nothing Congress. The Democrats have been shut out and the Republicans stick to the party line regardless of how their constituents feel about any given issue. Congress needs to wake up and realize that it does not have to cater to the President’s wishes, but that it is supposed to limit the President’s power. If the Republican Congress continues to fail at their constitutionally-directed obligation to limit the executive, then we might as well crown Bush as emperor because Congress has allowed him to do whatever he wants: invade Iraq, spend without limit, destroy individual liberties, etc. Please, go out and vote next week and let’s replace this Congress and stop the country’s slide towards authoritarianism.

For more information, read this thought-provoking article by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC.

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