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January 29, 2012

Life without liberty and the pursuit of subverting civil rights

The Canadian Charger

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Hermann Goring, Hitler's designated successor, wrote that the most efficient way to remove citizens' democratic and human rights was to convince them that they were being threatened by a foreign or external threat. The people will then sit passively by while all sorts of draconian laws are passed, subverting civil rights, because they feel these laws are necessary to protect them from perceived threats - whether real or imagined.

Moreover, if the threat can then be made internal or domestic – such as the attempted bombing of Times Square – it's can be used as a pretext to removing legal and natural rights all citizens of a democracy are supposed to enjoy.

I believe," warned James Madison – the fourth President of the United States - in a speech to the Virginia Convention on June 16, 1788, "there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

Since 9/11, this seems to be what has been happening in Western democracies, not surprisingly, with the U.S. taking the lead.  First, on October 26th 2001, the passage of the Patriot Act removed the right to privacy, giving the FBI, CIA and police forces free access to search telephone and email communications, medical, financial, and any personal records. Any U.S. citizen could also be placed under surveillance as a possible terrorist and, if necessary, indefinitely detained without charge.

After being elected promising change, President Obama continued to strip Americans of their liberties with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on New Year's Eve 2011. Because the NDAA allows the president of the United States to order the military to arrest and imprison anyone on suspicion without trial, First Amendment rights of free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and petition have no meaning.

Francis Boyle, professor  of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, warns that the NDAA, coupled with the notorious Pentagon and CIA "murder lists," means President Obama could now start CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) death squads and/or disappearance squads to render American citizens to Guantanamo Bay prison or abroad "for torture and murder."

If most Americans are unfamiliar with the JSOC perhaps that's because it operates in secret. That this menacing terror law has been enacted, like the unconstitutional laws that preceded it, with barely a murmur of outrage, speaks volumes about the manner in which the repressive aspects of these laws have been hidden from the general public.

Amazingly, there has been scant public outcry condemning these government actions. Few Americans objected when President Obama in March, 2011, by executive order, decreed Guantanamo detainees could be held indefinitely---a policy that NDAA now applies to American citizens.  The U.S. now has a government that can arrest American citizens and put them in concentration camps.

Ironically, the NDAA law replaces a system of civilian-court prosecutions with a system that has generated the kind of global outrage that would delight recruiters of terrorists.

In order to “remedy” the obvious disregard for what American citizenship is supposed to stand for, Congress is currently considering the Enemy Expatriation Act (EEA), sponsored by Senator Joseph Lieberman., which, if passed will give the US government the power to strip Americans of their citizenship for “engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting hostilities against the United States.”

These types of laws are remarkably similar, if not synonymous, with the laws a dictatorship such as China uses to imprison government critics for “activities which endanger the state.” Under the EEA one doesn't have to be convicted of terrorism; one simply has to be accused of “hostilities against the United States.”  Such a broadly worded law could be used to include members of the Occupy Wall Street movement or even journalists deemed “too critical of government policy.”

History shows that by revoking a citizen's legal rights, including his or her citizenship, a government can then destroy any practical recourse a disenfranchised citizen might have to those natural and inalienable human rights that we hear so much about. Hitler did this to the Jews prior to and during World War II because he realized that the most important step in “justifying” murder was to first deprive the victims of their legal status. The American government is currently using the same technique to detain prisoners indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay, without due legal recourse.

Once a person is rendered stateless, there is no state on earth that can provide those rights, and no utopian country where inalienable human rights are the law of the land. This means the fundamental right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enshrined in the U.S. Constitution means nothing in practice.

It is ironic that Mr. Lieberman, a Jew, would sponsor a bill that seeks to replicate conditions that made the extermination of his forebears possible.

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