Many people have written to me asking where I have been since the election. I have written only one article, that a personal one about the religious right taking over the country. Yet, there has been much, too much even, to write about.
Here are just a few of the events and issues keeping me awake at night (literally):
John Ashcroft looks like a choirboy compared to Alberto Gonzales. Ashcroft is an idiotic fool; Gonzales a crafty, evil man in the tradition of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Do yourself a favor and read all the memos you can find (all over the Internet) written by Abu Ghraib Al. His position about presidential power is that is has no limits, I repeat none. He insists that King George answers to no one – and I mean no one. I wish I were exaggerating, but I am not.
The Bush Administration continues to get bolder and bolder in its defiance not only of the law and the Constitution, but also of federal court decisions. For instance, six months after ordering that the Guantanamo prisoners have the right to file habeas petitions, the Pentagon and the Justice Department are refusing to allow prisoners access to lawyers, and continue to files brief arguing that the federal courts have no jurisdiction over the prisoners. For those of us who thought the Supreme Court’s decision meant something, think again.
A federal judge has decided that Falls Church, Virginia resident and American citizen has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for eighteen months at the behest of federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia and has ordered the government to account for his “detention.” Yet, there is little hope that Ahmed Abu Ali will ever get out of prison, alive, since the federal government will continue to insist that the Saudi’s hold him and that they can’t make them release him. The Saudi government clearly is making some deal with the feds to save face for all concerned. Abu Ali has never been charged with a crime, or implicated in any wrongdoing.
A federal judge in South Carolina will finally get around to hearing the habeas corpus petition of Jose Padilla in January 2005, six months after his attorneys filed the case in South Carolina because the Supreme Court ordered that it had been filed in the wrong court. Yet, in papers filed last week, the government insisted, in spite of what the court ruled in the case of Yaser Hamdi, that Padilla, an American citizen seized on American soil AND CHARGED WITH NO CRIME, but named an “enemy combatant,” has no right to challenge his detention. Again, I remind you, that the government is ignoring the Supreme Court’s mandate and this federal judge, who in the summer said there was “no hurry” to decide the case, is likely going to find a way to sidestep the high court’s directive.
Emperor Bush this week re-nominated for the federal bench most of the vile, racist, hateful, judges that the Senate refused to vote on last year. With bigoted Brownback and Coburn now named to the judiciary committee, and a chastised Specter duty-bound to do the Emperor’s bidding on the committee, the federal bench will be packed for the next fifty years or more with the likes of judges we have never seen before-and I mean never. For each of the nominees has a record a mile long that should chill your heart this Christmas-tide.
There are more “reports” about abuse of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo than can be cataloged, including “complaints” from the FBI and the CIA that brutal Pentagon-hired interrogators were using the cover of their agencies to beat, and even, kill prisoners. Yet, the abuse goes on, and nothing changes, except perhaps my revulsion-and I hope yours-grows with story. Yet, I hope you realize, as do I, that the FBI and the CIA are no more shocked and disapproving of abuse and murder than is their leader, Bush soon-to-be 44. It’s all for show, like fake tinsel on fake Christmas trees.
The Washington Post, my hometown newspaper, has become such an administration propaganda machine that I can no longer bear to read it, except as parody. And great parody it is. Remember how they ran with the rhetoric of war, with their editorial page and all their columnists, including their token “liberal” columnists, wholesale supporting the war in Iraq? And before the election, how their poll had 65 % of the American people soundly in favor of the war? Now the Post is blowing the other way. A front-page story this week said that less than half of Americans were in favor of the war, now. Did Americans, fools that most of them are, change their mind, or did the Post changes its numbers? Whatever, the Post has not one ounce of credibility with me, and not just for that reason alone. Typically stories of American troop deaths, if there were less than 20 in a day, are buried way back in the front section of the paper. Baseball in Washington and stupid stories about frustrated Christmas shoppers who can’t find some mindless game for their spoiled children fill the front page. Like the Pentagon that can’t afford to show the coffins of dead soldiers, the Post hides the bad news behind pages of Christmas ads extolling the virtue of diamonds and gold (for wealthy Republicans) as “holiday” gifts and designer gowns for the upcoming inaugural balls.
As if to magnify the ridiculous depths of their own spin, yesterday’s Post “B” section had a picture of a Marine, clearly with NO LEGS, sitting in a chair at Walter Reed Army Hospital in D.C. The caption referred to the Marine not as having LOST HIS LEGS, but as having suffered “injuries” to his legs. That about did it for me. Even the stupidest of Post readers could not help but see that he had NO LEGS.
I could go on an on, for there are many articles that I have spun in my head over the past seven weeks that never made it an article. Why? Because though angry and dismayed, it is old news, more of the same. I realize, sadly, that my book, “The War on Civil Liberties,” was too optimistic. I never knew it could get this bad, this fast. And I mean, bad.
We are no longer looking forward to a fascist regime, we are in it. I predict there will be political prisoners before the year is out. The government may go bankrupt, which is what Bush seems to have planned. The head of the EPA, who called for more arsenic in our water and mercury in our air, is going to be the head of our health care! The man who believes in no law is going to be Attorney General. Don’t try to make sense of appointments or the news. The only sense is that it is nonsense and that the motives of the regime are too complicated for us to figure out. Consider that you are reading about a third world country, for that is what we have become.
And the American people have spoken-they want this fool in power. So frankly, I have stopped caring about most of my fellow citizens-except the children and the incarcerated. If Americans have no health care, no jobs, well, so be it. They gave it up for their King. Like the French revolution in reverse, idiotic Americans said, “Here, take our children to war and kill them, blow off their limbs. Take my job and send it to China. Take my health care and we will rely on your healing power to make us well. Let the pharmaceutical industry run the FDA. Let that smirk-face Michael Powell be the guardian of media morals. Take away our rights to sue corrupt corporations and negligent doctors and do not allow us to hold anyone accountable for all the harm you, your administration, and the big guns that elected you, are doing to our air, our water, and our bodies. Continue to leave all children behind with your stupid No Child Left Behind Law, and pollute our air with the authority Congress gave you under the CLEAR Act.
“And, while you’re at it, take our social security and give it to Wall Street. Make the head of the EPA, the agency that wants more arsenic in our water and greater mercury in our air, in charge of the country’s health. Make the man who believes in no law except what serves him and his leader the Attorney General.
“Appoint the worst National Security Advisor in history as head of the State Department, an agency for which she has openly expressed disdain. Reappoint the leader of this debacle of a war for another term. Support him in his disdain for the troops. Appoint ideological judges to carry out your mandate. We are with you Mr. President for you, alone, know best. After all, you are the voice of God on earth. Forget Jesus! You, George Bush, are the 21st century Messiah.”
Finally, to people who have written me asking why don’t I write about this and that, I say, why don’t you? To those who have sent email asking if I read about Ahmed Abu Ali, I say, yes, and I wrote about him 18 months ago, where were you? To people who express fear about Gonzalez, I ask why they did not read his memos first published 10 month ago. To people alarmed about the specter of a totalitarian regime, I say, where have you been for four years, while I, and others like me have been screaming and sounding bells of alarm?
So, dear readers, this weekend instead of writing all the articles that need to be written, I am baking gingerbread men with my grandson, filling the sound system in my home with Bach, Handel, and Mozart, and trying to make space for a little peace-though not joy-in my troubled heart. Christmas isn’ t “out there” anywhere this year. Such as it is, if it is, is truly in our hearts.
ELAINE CASSEL practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teaches law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime’s dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch. Her new book The War on Civil Liberties: How Bush and Ashcroft Have Dismantled the Bill of Rights, is published by Lawrence Hill. She can be reached at: email@example.com