America: A Beacon, Not a Policeman       America: a Beacon, not a Policeman

Losing Our Liberties Archive

Americans Against World Empire, Inc.  Homepage

 

       “When the Nazis came for the Communists, I didn't speak up, because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I was a Protestant, so I didn't speak up. Then they came for me ... and by that time, there was no one left to stand up for me.” German Minister Martin Niemoller

It Can Happen Here  by Justin Raimondo

     ACLU Testimony to National Commission on Terrorism

England Too --Freedoms Going--Plan to end Jury Trials, property seizures like US, & more

WIRED Magazine --DOJ Already monitoring modems

Molly Ivins

Shooting Down Civilian Aircraft --CIA ops against all international law--drug war justifies anything?

 

Lessons from Latin America's Military Tribunals --and now other nations will copy our lead

THE WASHINGTON TIMES   Latin America's 9/11 parable
by  Ximena Ortiz

Extreme situations carry the most potent
messages. Latin America, with its economic
maelstroms and political turbulence of fictional
proportions, is a continent of extremes. Its recent
history, therefore, carries a message for the
United States, as it struggles to devise a domestic
counter-terrorist strategy. Hopefully, Attorney
General John Ashcroft will be willing to listen.
An overwhelming and demoralizing sense of
impotence weighs on Latin Americans following
eruptions of trouble. In the face of of it, parties
on both the left and the right have resorted to the
forceful subjugation of citizens' rights in their
search for quick solutions. The continent
therefore demonstrates, in all its glaring ignominy,
where this kind of repression ultimately leads.
Americans, on the other hand, have boldly
defended their rights over time, and pioneered
their application for the rest of the world to
emulate. So the United States isn't poised to
replicate Latin America's past, or anything
resembling it, in this post-September 11 world.
Still, there will be consequences to the current
subverting of Americans' constitutional rights.
And there is a parable in the Latin American
experience for the United States to observe,
which highlights the folly of problem-solving
through heavy-handedness.
Consider Colombia. It is by far Latin
America's most problem-plagued country, with
monied and ferocious guerrillas marauding the
countryside, and paramilitary groups countering
these guerrillas through their own brutality. What
gave rise to these guerrillas? For the most part,
they were born out of a dissident movement
opposed to government corruption and impunity
which compromised the rights of Colombians in
various ways.
Now, these guerrillas offer incoherent
solutions to the country's ills which entail assaults
on democratic and economic freedoms. The
government has tried, unsuccessfully, to reign in
the problem through military force and erosion of
the judicial process. But the solution for
Colombia, as academic as it may seem, is the
fortification of the rule of law, through all organs
of government enforcement, from police officers,
to judges, to custom officials, to securities
regulators, tax collectors and yes, limited military
force.
In Peru, the scenario has been quite similar.
The evil of the guerrilla, born of another evil, gave
rise to former President Alberto Fujimori's slash-
and-burn counter-guerrilla policies, which in turn
created perfect conditions for impunity and a
pervasive corruption that infected all democratic
institutions.
And once rights are usurped, national unity
disappears. No one trusts their neighbors. The
lowest common denominator triumphs by
fabricating allegations against perceived rivals.
The repressive approaches that were supposed to
deliver quick solutions have served to perpetuate
Latin America's cyclical calamities. Although they
certainly seem attractive in times of peril, there are
always the attending, unintended consequences.
The military tribunals that the Bush
administration has turned to in wake of
September 11 seem lifted out of the Latin
American play book. In these tribunals, which
can judge U.S. residents but not citizens, a
defendant isn't free to chose his lawyers, there
will be no juries and a defendant can be
sentenced to death in secret with only two-thirds
assent of the presiding members of the military
officials on the panel. These courts don't allow
for appeals in any judicial process and the
standard of proof is "below a reasonable doubt."
These tribunals have no place in America's 21st
century legacy.
But there are more than ethical considerations
and national identity at stake. There are also more
pragmatic concerns. Once America judges others
with this short-cut approach to justice, U.S.
citizens can be judged in the same manner
abroad, and the White House has handicapped its
ability to dispute the terms of their justice — to
say nothing of its ability to credibly lobby for
democratic reform worldwide. And the arrest of
more than 1,000 foreign individuals in
Kafkaesque secret custody will further erode the
government's ability to defend citizens' rights
abroad.
There are elements of the terrorist bill passed
by the Congress which will have a more
immediate impact on Americans. For starters, the
definition of a terrorist under the new law is
ominously vague. Now, a terrorist is now anyone
who strives to "influence the policy of
government by intimidation." The concept of
lawyer-client privilege has been eviscerated, since
the government now has the privilege, without
need of a court order, to eavesdrop on
conversations between lawyers and inmates at
federal prisons, including people who have been
detained and have not been charged with any
crime. This provision is an assault on the Sixth
Amendment right to counsel. Similarly, Internet
use can be monitored without a user's
knowledge, and Internet providers can be forced
to hand over user information to law-enforcement
officials without a warrant or subpoena. And the
FBI and CIA can tap phones or computers
around the country, without having to even
demonstrate a criminal suspect uses them.
Unsurprisingly, the House passed the
175-page bill on Oct. 12 without even having had
time to read it. And if policy-makers feel so
comfortable with the laws' constitutionality, why
limit its application to four years?
The restriction of individuals' rights tends to
gain an uncontrollable momentum, as Latin
America's history so painfully demonstrates.
Countries in that region will continue to pay the
price of resorting to myopic methods. And
thanks to the counter-terrorism law, so will
America. The liberties and enshrining principles
early Americans fought for once seemed
extravagantly idealistic, but they have proved their
feasibility and durability. It's a shame to see those
liberties, achieved at such sacrifice, compromised
today.

Ximena Ortiz is an editorial writer for The
WASHINGTON TIMES


All site contents copyright 2001 News World Communications, Inc.