The Death Of Habeas Corpus: It Was A Murder And Our Silence Allowed It To Happen
Unfortunately, a lot of the media has mostly been silent on this enormous change to our democracy, including 360. Regular readers of this blog might remember me complaining about the noncoverage a couple of weeks ago when Congress first passed the law. However, there has been one bright exception: MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Keith has been covering this from the beginning. Last week or so he did a great segment highlighting how this new law basically does away with nine of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. You can watch it here and I urge you to do so.
On Tuesday night, Keith had on George Washington University Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley and honestly I thought he was probably going to tell us that the Supreme Court would take care of this like with the Hamdan decision. However, what I got instead was a visibly upset Turley in an exchange with Keith that left me with chills. The following is a snippet from the exchange and the emphasis is mine:
OLBERMANN: Does this mean that under this law, ultimately the only thing keeping you, I, or the viewer out of Gitmo is the sanity and honesty of the president of the United States?After WWII, many people wondered how it was that a modern, educated, and industrialized nation could become what Germany eventually became. How could people let their country go so far down the wrong path? Milton Mayer explored this question in his book, "They Thought They Were Free". I have not read this book, but there is an excerpt from it that I read every few months or so to remind myself just how easy it is for us to lose everything. You may be shocked just how familiar some of it sounds. And lest anyone become angered that I'm making a Bush-Hitler comparison, I'm not. What I'm pointing out is that democracy is something that must be participated in to survive and that is not currently happening here. Though our current government might be worst than most we've had, perhaps the worst we've ever had, in the end all governments lie. Our fundamental problem in this country just might be with ourselves.
TURLEY: It does. And it‘s a huge sea change for our democracy. The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president. In fact, Madison said that he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could not do harm, because we didn‘t rely on their good motivations.
Now we must. And people have no idea how significant this is. What, really, a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.
It couldn‘t be more significant. And the strange thing is, we‘ve become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. I mean, the Congress just gave the president despotic powers, and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to, you know, “Dancing with the Stars.” I mean, it‘s otherworldly.
OLBERMANN: Is there one defense against this, the legal challenges against particularly the suspension or elimination of habeas corpus from the equation? And where do they stand, and how likely are they to overturn this action today?
TURLEY: Well, you know what? I think people are fooling themselves if they believe that the courts will once again stop this president from taking over—taking almost absolute power. It basically comes down to a single vote on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy. And he indicated that if Congress gave the president these types of powers, that he might go along.
And so we may have, in this country, some type of ueber-president, some absolute ruler, and it‘ll be up to him who gets put away as an enemy combatant, held without trial.
It‘s something that no one thought—certainly I didn‘t think—was possible in the United States. And I am not too sure how we got to this point. But people clearly don‘t realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today changed us. And I‘m not too sure we‘re going to change back anytime soon.
Going back to Keith Olbermann, he did another one of his great special comments Wednesday night on this latest power grab and it can be viewed here. I will forever be grateful for Keith's coverage. As for 360, I have this to say:
Combined time 360 spent on the Military Commissions Act: Zero minutes
The value of a free press: Priceless
The value of our democracy after 360 and others shirk their journalistic responsibilities: Worthless
"When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."
-Jonathan Simon, polling expert