Monday, July 27, 2009

The Use of Military force on U.S. Soil - not a mere flight of fancy

From the inestimable Glenn Greenwald, comes word that the Bush Administration considered using America's armed forces on our own soil to detain U.S. citizens. This is not, by the way, a new accusation, but as Glenn point out, the New York Times has now substantiated it. Aside from HUGE Constitutional issues, consider what this agitation for suborning American citizens says about the use of power by a government:

It's the nature of governments that powers of this type, once vested, rarely remain confined to their original purpose. They inevitably and invariably expand far beyond that. Powers that are endowed to address a limited and supposedly temporary circumstance almost always endure for years if not decades. Once a political official possesses a particular power, they almost never relinquish it voluntarily (there are exceptions -- Jimmy Carter in 1978 signed, and subsequent Presidents until Bush complied with, FISA, which barred Presidents from eavesdropping without a judicial warrant, but such instances are exceedingly rare). Perhaps most dangerous of all, detention and punishment schemes that are implemented in relatively normal times (such as now) will inevitably expand, and expand wildly, in the case of some heightened threat (such as another Terrorist attack). Put another way, once we depart for ostensibly limited purposes from our fundamental principles of justice -- in order to indefinitely detain "just some special cases" without charges -- then, by definition, we're fundamentally altering our system of justice far beyond that. (Emphasis mine) - G. Greenwald

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that I support Glenn's analysis. It will also come as no surprise that I find this one more example of why I believe the U.S. is descending into a oligarchical authoritarian state. Because these very real threats to our lives are not covered by the Main Stream Media, most Americans dismiss them as flights of fancy, when they consider them at all. We should not, because then we'd become countries that we say we are better then. We'd mimic the authoritarian states that used to exist to our south, and which we spent decades fighting against covertly. That is not the legacy I want to leave to my daughters.

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