The Lights are Going Out
Posted by hyperpat on November 6, 2006
Once upon a time this country was the shining beacon of freedom and respect for the rights of everyone. There was no document in the world equivalent to our Bill of Rights, and our courts consistently not only upheld those rights, but interpreted them in such a way as to expand their effectiveness. Now it would appear as if our beacon has not only been shrouded, but practically extinguished. The latest court briefs filed by the government on suspected terrorist detainee’s right of access to their lawyers reads like something from Alice in Wonderland, or perhaps a KGB brief. I mean, they can’t talk to their lawyers because they might reveal the actual methods the CIA used to torture (I use that word precisely) them, and such methods are (gasp) Top Secret?
Now I don’t have much sympathy for actual terrorists, but I do believe that anyone, regardless of what they are supposed to have done, has the right to defend themselves in court, has the right to obtain proper legal help, and must be presumed innocent till proven guilty. Coerced evidence should not be admissible, else we slide down the mountain to where our court trials look like something out of the Stalinist regime, and no one is safe from the power of the government. And I believe these rules should apply to everyone, citizens, foreign nationals, even ‘enemy combatants’ as defined in the new Military Commissions Act. The whole concept that the interrogation techniques used by the CIA need be kept secret, and that our ‘war on terror’ would be irreparably damaged if these methods became known, is ridiculous on its face.
There’s really only one reason for classifying such things as Top Secret, and that’s to avoid embarrassment in the forum of world opinion. Definitely not a compelling reason, in my mind, and my votes tomorrow will reflect my disgust with a Congress and administration that thinks these types of actions are proper.