William Rivers Pitt / Truthout & Rob Kall / Op-Ed News – 2006-10-01 23:50:13
In Case I Disappear
William Rivers Pitt / t r u t h o u t | Perspective
(September 29, 2006) — I have been told a thousand times at least, in the years I have spent reporting on the astonishing and repugnant abuses, lies and failures of the Bush administration, to watch my back. “Be careful,” people always tell me. “These people are capable of anything. Stay off small planes, make sure you aren’t being followed.”
A running joke between my mother and me is that she has a “safe room” set up for me in her cabin in the woods, in the event I have to flee because of something I wrote or said.
I always laughed and shook my head whenever I heard this stuff. Extreme paranoia wrapped in the tinfoil of conspiracy, I thought. This is still America, and these Bush fools will soon pass into history, I thought. I am a citizen, and the First Amendment hasn’t yet been red-lined, I thought.
Matters are different now.
It seems, perhaps, that the people who warned me were not so paranoid. It seems, perhaps, that I was not paranoid enough. Legislation passed by the Republican House and Senate, legislation now marching up to the Republican White House for signature, has shattered a number of bedrock legal protections for suspects, prisoners, and pretty much anyone else George W. Bush deems to be an enemy.
So much of this legislation is wretched on the surface. Habeas corpus has been suspended for detainees suspected of terrorism or of aiding terrorism, so the Magna Carta-era rule that a person can face his accusers is now gone.
Once a suspect has been thrown into prison, he does not have the right to a trial by his peers. Suspects cannot even stand in representation of themselves, another ancient protection, but must accept a military lawyer as their defender.
Illegally-obtained evidence can be used against suspects, whether that illegal evidence was gathered abroad or right here at home. To my way of thinking, this pretty much eradicates our security in persons, houses, papers, and effects, as stated in the Fourth Amendment, against illegal searches and seizures.
Speaking of collecting evidence, the torture of suspects and detainees has been broadly protected by this new legislation. While it tries to delineate what is and is not acceptable treatment of detainees, in the end, it gives George W. Bush the final word on what constitutes torture. US officials who use cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment to extract information from detainees are now shielded from prosecution.
It was two Supreme Court decisions, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, that compelled the creation of this legislation. The Hamdi decision held that a prisoner has the right of habeas corpus, and can challenge his detention before an impartial judge. The Hamdan decision held that the military commissions set up to try detainees violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions.
In short, the Supreme Court wiped out virtually every legal argument the Bush administration put forth to defend its extraordinary and dangerous behavior. The passage of this legislation came after a scramble by Republicans to paper over the torture and murder of a number of detainees.
As columnist Molly Ivins wrote on Wednesday, “Of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place.”
It seems almost certain that, at some point, the Supreme Court will hear a case to challenge the legality of this legislation, but even this is questionable. If a detainee is not allowed access to a fair trial or to the evidence against him, how can he bring a legal challenge to a court? The legislation, in anticipation of court challenges like Hamdi and Hamdan, even includes severe restrictions on judicial review over the legislation itself.
The Republicans in Congress have managed, at the behest of Mr. Bush, to draft a bill that all but erases the judicial branch of the government. Time will tell whether this aspect, along with all the others, will withstand legal challenges. If such a challenge comes, it will take time, and meanwhile there is this bill.
All of the above is deplorable on its face, indefensible in a nation that prides itself on Constitutional rights, protections and the rule of law.
Underneath all this, however, is where the paranoia sets in.
Underneath all this is the definition of “enemy combatant” that has been established by this legislation. An “enemy combatant” is now no longer just someone captured “during an armed conflict” against our forces. Thanks to this legislation, George W. Bush is now able to designate as an “enemy combatant” anyone who has “purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.”
Consider that language a moment. “Purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States” is in the eye of the beholder, and this administration has proven itself to be astonishingly impatient with criticism of any kind.
The broad powers given to Bush by this legislation allow him to capture, indefinitely detain, and refuse a hearing to any American citizen who speaks out against Iraq or any other part of the so-called “War on Terror.”
If you write a letter to the editor attacking Bush, you could be deemed as purposefully and materially supporting hostilities against the United States. If you organize or join a public demonstration against Iraq, or against the administration, the same designation could befall you.
One dark-comedy aspect of the legislation is that senators or House members who publicly disagree with Bush, criticize him, or organize investigations into his dealings could be placed under the same designation. In effect, Congress just gave Bush the power to lock them up.
By writing this essay, I could be deemed an “enemy combatant.” It’s that simple, and very soon, it will be the law. I always laughed when people told me to be careful. I’m not laughing anymore.
In case I disappear, remember this. America is an idea, a dream, and that is all. We have borders and armies and citizens and commerce and industry, but all this merely makes us like every other nation on this Earth.
What separates us is the idea, the simple idea, that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are our organizing principles. We can think as we please, speak as we please, write as we please, worship as we please, go where we please. We are protected from the kinds of tyranny that inspired our creation as a nation in the first place.
That was the idea. That was the dream. It may all be over now, but once upon a time, it existed. No good idea ever truly dies. The dream was here, and so was I, and so were you.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence. His newest book, House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation will be available this winter from PoliPointPress.
Keith Olbermann Terrorized and Gov Tries to Hide it
Rob Kall / Op-Ed News.com
WASHINGTON (September 28, 2006 ) — Keith Olbermann is hitting home run after home run, taking on the Bush Cheney led right wing, immoral lie machine, pummelling them unmercifully with truth after truth. He is the strongest voice the left has in the mainstream media.
Unlike Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, other strong voices, he does not couch his hard hitting messages in comedy. Last night, he did it again, presenting a chronology of Bush administration failures to do much of anything to respond to the clear warnings he documents that the Clinton administration left for the Bush administration. Now, in spirit, we won’t call Condi Rice a liar, but she has her facts wrong.
(Available online: the video of last night’s kick-ass report on the Bush Admin failure to do anything pre-9/11.)
We have serious reason to worry about Olbermann’s safety. Last night, he reported that he’d been threatened, apparently with some anthrax-like substance that required him to be subjected to 10 hours of detention in a hospital. He was discharged with a prescription for Cipro.
Worse, he and his network were told to keep this off the air. He discussed it last night in the context of the NY Post violating the government’s request to keep this quiet, describing how MSNBC had respected the Murdock owned Fox News request that the media keep a low profile in covering the two kidnapped Journalists in Palestine, and how Murdock-owned NY Post had not respected the government request for a low profile on the investigation of the threat that endangered Olbermann.
Editor and Publisher, in an article “NY Post Makes Fun of Olbermann’s Reaction to Getting Letter With White Powder,” reported:
Several leading news organizations in recent years have summoned “HazMat” teams and sent employees to the hospital after receiving letters with white powder at their offices. The Post itself received a so-called “anthrax letter” in the fall of 2001, infecting three staffers, who all recovered. Here is the Post item, which appeared under the headline, “Powder Puff Spooks Keith.”
On his MSNBC program Wednesday, Olbermann detailed the incident, pointing out numerous errors, including the fact that it took 14 hours for the substance to be cleared as absolutely safe. He spent 10 hours at the hospital, he said. Far from a lollipop, he noted, he was given a prescription for Cipro at the end, not a lollipop.
MSNBC loudmouth Keith Olbermann flipped out when he opened his home mail yesterday. The acerbic host of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” was terrified when he opened a suspicious-looking letter with a California postmark and a batch of white powder poured out.
A note inside warned Olbermann, who’s a frequent critic of President Bush’s policies, that it was payback for some of his on-air shtick.
The caustic commentator panicked and frantically called 911 at about 12:30 a.m., sources told The Post’s Philip Messing. An NYPD HazMat unit rushed to Olbermann’s pad on Central Park South, but preliminary tests indicated the substance was harmless soap powder.
However, that wasn’t enough to satisfy Olbermann, who insisted on a checkup. He asked to be taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where doctors looked him over and sent him home. Whether they gave him a lollipop on the way out isn’t known. Olbermann had no comment.
Well, Olbermann commented last night. And he added that if Fox News has another situation, like the one where it’s journalists were kidnapped, he and MSNBC would, in light of the way Murdoch’s NY Post handled him… do exactly what the did the first time- — in spite of the way the Murdoch paper handled him.
We know the corrupt Bush appointees routinely use the power of their offices to take care of their own. It is not far fetched to speculate that Olbermann is being subjected to a horrendous abuse of power. The idea that he could be abused and placed in hospital detention for 10 hours, then told to keep quiet about it, for purposes of national security, possibly by the FBI, is outrageous and frightening.
Ever since his first of what are now many tough monologues attacking Bush and company, I have feared for the viability of his show. Now, with this latest development I fear for his safety and his life. The stakes are very high here.
Olbermann’s message, if it gets out to the voters, could be devastating to the Republicans in November. They’ve already declared to their base that they are pulling out all the stops, going for broke. It is not unreasonable to assume that these politicians, who have already proved how low, how corrupt they can go, will pull out all the stops when it comes to corrupt, illegal moves as well as legal ones.
Olbermann’s heroic — and it is truly heroic reporting must be protected by the Democratic party and those on the left. I call upon Democratic legislators in congress to hold independent investigations into the terrorist threat upon Olbermann’s life. Right wingers who think they can get away with intimidation of the press, the strongest voice standing up to the administration must see that they put themselves at risk, that they do not engage in their invidious acts with impunity.
We on the left must support MSNBC for the courage it is demonstrating by supporting the advertisers that are backing Olbermann’s show.
This is a partial list of the advertisers whose commercials were on the show last night, with contact information for some supplied with the help of a reader.
• Sprint mobile broadband
• Senior lending network reverse mortgages
• Honda Certified Used Cars
• AT&T Dynamic Networking New ATT att.com
• ReadyRegion.org red cross
• Comcast digital voice
• l’Oreal Pro Calcium Moisturizer
• NBC NEws on I-Tunes
• Subaru outback sport utility wagon
• Genworth Financial Retirement solutions
• Vonage unlimited local and long distance calling
• New York Stock Exchange
• Clairol natural Instincts
• Dell Power Edge Servers
contact info for some of the above
• Cheerios http://consumercontacts.generalmills.com/consolidatedcontact.aspx? page=http://www.cheerios.com Consumer Services at 1-800-248-7310
• monster.com http://www.monster.com/contact/ http://hiring.monster.com/contactusform.aspx
• PNC https://www.pnc.com:443/webapp/sec/Forms.do?siteArea=/PNC/Contact+Us
• commitlozenge.com http://www.commitlozenge.com/contactus.aspx
• Aleve http://www.aleve.com/contact_form.html Phone: 1-800-331-4536 Mail:
• Bayer Consumer Care Division 36 Columbia Road P.O. Box 1910 Morristown, NJ 07962-1910
• sprint mobile broadband http://www.sprint.com/contactus/ “general questions & feedback” @ center bottom of page senior lending network reverse mortgages email@example.com
• Honda Certified Used Cars By Phone At our toll-free number: (800) 999-1009 By Fax (310) 783-3023 (24 Hours) By Mail American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Honda Automobile Customer Service 1919 Torrance Boulevard Mail Stop: 500 – 2N – 7D Torrance, CA 90501-2746
• AT&T Dynamic Networking New ATT att.com http://www.att.com/contact/forms/inquiries.html
• ReadyRegion.org red cross
• Comcast digital voice http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/irol/11/118591/inforeq/ ContactUs.htm
• Investor Relations was the only email available l’Oreal Pro Calcium Moisturizer http://www.loreal.com/_en/_ww/tools/contact/general_info/ form_general.aspx?
I encourage you to contact them and thank them and let MSNBC know how much you love and support the show, and that you are supporting their advertisers. Even better, go out and spend money on their products. If you are already a customer, let them know that as a customer, you are strongly supportive of Olbermann having a continued voice and that if they support other shows like his, you will support them even more.
If you want to help others, dig up contact information on the advertisers and post it as a comment after the article. Me, I’m going out today to buy me a box of Cheerios. It would be nice if people who believe Olbermann is serving democracy and truth cleared out the shelves of Cheerios today, as a gesture. Yep, today, make it three boxes of Cheerios. Let’s send a message to General Mills that supporting tough, honest journalism is good for business.
And John Conyers, you’re on the judiciary committee, please, get something started to protect Keith Olbermann, who has already been abused by our government enough.
Note that Olbermann did not complain about his treatment by the system. He complained about the NY Post reporting it. He complained that he was being held so long. This article speaks FOR Olbermann. WE should be complaining. This event should not be kept secret. It should be widely reported. An aggressive search for the sender of the white powder should be initiated and when the sender is found he should prosecuted as a terrorist. Threatening journalists, trying to silence them, should be considered a major, serious offense… and it would be in any country that is not a banana republic.
Sadly, outside of Editor and Publisher, the NY Post and one blog that merely reported on the NY Post article and compared this to O’Reilly’s ludicrous, unsubstantiated claim that he is on Al Qaeda’s death list, this terrorist threat against a major journalist was unreported in the media.
Oh yes. That’s right. The government asked the media to keep it quiet. Well, it’s no secret any more. Murdoch media blew it wide open. So why aren’t all the mainstream networks covering it now?
Rob Kall is executive editor and publisher of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and organizer of several conferences, including StoryCon, the Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story and The Winter Brain Meeting on neurofeedback, biofeedback, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology. He is a frequent Speaker on Politics, The art, science and power of story, Positive Psychology, Stress, Biofeedback and a wide range of subjects.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommcercial, educational purposes.