America’s Loss of Liberties … who’s to blame?

You have to read the New York Times editorial for Sunday, March 5th. It’s a list of measures the Bush administration has put in place over the past five years that taken together add up to an astonishing attack against what we used to consider America’s most basic constitutional principles.

 

The Times calls for Congress to take immediate action to reverse the situation. The editorial, however, should be calling for Congress—and the media– to do much, nuch more.

 

Bush’s Draconian measures range from the suspension of habeas corpus to warrantless eavesdropping to the right of the president to decide what constitutes torture, to prisons where hundreds face indefinite detention without any charges being brought against them, to other even more secret CIA facilities filled with “ghost prisoners” for whom the CIA has never accounted;and, of course, ”extraordinary rendition”, where detainees are packed off to face torture at the hands of America’s less savory allies.. At the same time, American courts are being closed to legal challenges to these outrageous actions.

 

If the list weren’t indeed from the Times, one might have thought it was fiction: an updated version of Orwell’s 1984.

 

The Times rightly demands that Congress act to reverse this assault on democratic liberties. But the demands should go further.

 

Congress– and the media– should be looking at how this attack on what we used to consider fundamental principles of American democracy-how this attack was possible. How was it carried out? We should be analyzing why and how the American Congress—and, let’s face it—most of the media caved in so abjectly to the Bush/Cheney scare tactics. How could such bedrock principles as habeas corpus have been so cravenly and quickly jettisoned? Where were the newspaper editors? The TV magazine shows? What about the legal profession? And where were those political leaders now in the race to be the next president?

 

It’s not enough for a new congress controlled by the Democrats to reverse gears, and attempt to undo the damage. There have to be some lessons learned for everybody. Otherwise, the next time round—and it’s very probably there will be a next time round—will be even worse.

 

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About Barry Lando

Mr. Barry Lando is a Canadian native living in Paris, France. Lando spent 25 years an an award-winning investigative producer with 60 minutes and directed a documentary two years ago called, “The Trial of Saddam Hussein We’ll Never See.” It dealt with the hypocrisy of putting Saddam Hussein on trial without also dealing with the complicity of world leaders and businessmen in his crimes during his time in office in Iraq. Prior to that he was a correspondent for Time-Life in South America. He has also freelanced articles over the years for a large range of North American and European publications. He received a B.A. magna in history at Harvard University and an M.A. in political science from Columbia University. His new book is titled “Web of Deceit: The History of Foreign Complicity in Iraq from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush.” Web of Deceit draws on a wide range of journalism and scholarship to present a complete picture of what really happened in Iraq under Saddam, detailing – for the first time – the complicity of the West in its full and alarming extent. It is being published by Other Press in the U.S. and Doubleday in Canada. He maintains his own blog at http://www.barrylando.com.

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