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This legislation by stripping habeas corpus has pushed us closer to the advent of a police state. Many may comfort themselves with the thought that this law is only for “non-citizens.�

(Chairman of the Surpreme Presidium...)

So, Bush got his wish.

With the help of his republican congressional cronies, the so-called Military Commissions Act of 2006 or “detainee-torture act� has been passed. And it seems that the police state is now knocking at our gates.
    
On Sept. 28, the Senate in a 65-34 vote approved legislation that will change the rules of interrogating and trying “terror suspects� in the courts. The vote backed-up a similar bill which passed in the House by a 253-168 vote. The president pushed for this bill because he claimed that the language in Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions regarding treatment of prisoners was “vague.� Under the new law habeas corpus rights will be suspended for “non-citizens� accused of terrorism and they can now be held in indefinite detention.
    
It’s not hard to see the real reasons that Bush and company wanted this law: to insulate themselves from prosecution as the war criminals they surely are, while securing more absolute power. From the very beginning of this “war on terror� this Administration has trampled over the human rights of many. Repeatedly we have heard echoes of the outrages being done at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. We have heard of the shenanigans done by Corporal Charles Graner and Private First Class Lydie England. Unfortunately, many claim that they are only “bad apples� not indicative of the bunch. However, the truth of the matter is that they represent mere instruments of official policy.
    
Remember, before he became our Attorney General, how Alberto Gonzales issued the now infamous “torture memo� advocating ignoring the Geneva Conventions for detainees. In fact, Gonzales told Bush that in his opinion this war “is not the traditional clash between nations adhering to the laws of war,� and so he declared that “in my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.� On Gonzales’s advice, Bush suspended Common Article 3 and in an instant Guantanamo became a gulag.
    
Now we know that our government which gives moralizing lectures to the world about democracy, freedom and the rule of law has been up to its ears in the torturing of prisoners, the vast majority of whom have no connection whatsoever to 9-11 or terrorism. The “president� claims that we do not torture people. But if that were true, then, why did Dick Cheney so strenuously object to Senator McCain’s efforts to pass a torture bill, squawking that the CIA should be exempt?
 
Therefore, it is quite clear that they are engaging in torture and are using techniques like sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation and “water-boarding� outlawed by Geneva. And then there is the issue of “extraordinary rendition.�
    
Using the “rendition� technique the Bush junta has sent countless persons to third-party countries who openly engage in torture at “black sites.� And we know some of the names of those who have suffered under this. For example, there is the case of Maher Araf. Araf, a Syrian-born Canadian, was detained on Sept. 26, at JFK Airport by Immigration officials. He was taken to Jordan via Syria where he was interrogated and tortured by Syrian officials. A year later he was released. And on Sept. 18, 2006 a Canadian inquiry cleared Mr. Araf of any wrongdoing. 
    
Then there is Kahled el-Masri.  El-Masri, a German national with Kuwaiti roots was detained in Macedonia in 2003 by Macedonian agents and handed over to the CIA. He stated that he was drugged, taken to an airport, and woke up in an Afghan prison run by America, which had scores of prisoners from Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Tanzania. He says he was interrogated, beaten and kept in solitary confinement for five months. Then he was told by American officials that “they had confused names and that they had cleared it up.� After being flown out of Afghanistan he was dumped on a road in Albania, and had to make it back to Germany on his own. Some time later, the CIA admitted to German Interior Minister Otto Schily that they had made a mistake and “believed he [El-Masri] was someone else.� And there are worse stories that these, some of which can’t be told because the people to tell them are dead and buried in the graveyard of imperial lies.
    
By passing this law, which also has a “retroactive� stipulation, these war criminals now trespassing in the White House are covering their butts. But there is another problem here. This legislation by stripping habeas corpus has pushed us closer to the advent of a police state. Many may comfort themselves with the thought that this law is only for “non-citizens.� But isn’t it only a matter of time before some tyrant pushes to change that too? And the question we must ask is: can we afford to take that risk?

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