Thursday, December 4, 2014
The 2010 movie, The Conspirator, directed by Robert Redford, triggered my researching the case of Mary E. Surratt, the first woman to be executed by the U.S. Fed Gov't...after being tried and found guilty by a military tribunal. Mary was convicted of being one of the conspirators in the assassination of Lincoln. The prosecution case against her was flawed; as a result, a judge signed a writ of habeas corpus, ordering a new trial in civilian court. The writ was vacated by President Andrew Johnson, and Mary was hanged. Her attorney, Frederick Aiken, was so disheartened by the turn of events that he left the Law and later became the first City Editor of the Washington Post. A year after Surratt's execution, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision stating that military tribunals for cases against civilians were unconstitutional, and that civilians must be tried in civilian court...even during times of war.
Before going further, let's clear up what I believe is a misconception regarding Rights and the U.S. Constitution. It appears to me that too many Americans believe that our Supreme Law of the Land grants us Rights, and that only citizens of our country are entitled to those Rights in the USA. Not true. What the Constitution does is protect Rights that all people possess at birth. The Declaration of Independence states, "...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.". So, Freedom for example, is our birthright...and is not dependent upon any government grant. The former Attorney General under Dubya Bush, Alberto Gonzales, was dead wrong when he testified before Congress that people don't necessarily have the Right of habeas corpus..."because the Constitution does not grant us that Right". Everyone is entitled to the Right of habeas corpus; the Constitution doesn't grant us any Rights. They are ours at birth. It's crucial to the survival of Freedom that people understand that point.
Humans have understood the difference between troops in war and civilians for centuries. Modern day Oligarchs and their puppets have changed the rules... and muddied the waters. According to them, we now have "enemy combatants"; they aren't troops, but should be treated the same as troops...sometimes. When captured, they can be treated as neither troops nor civilians, but rather as something akin to rabid animals. According to the Plutocrats, Rights do not apply to them...even criminals are treated better than "enemy combatants". This all comes from the rulers of supposedly civilized, ethical, moral nations. Incredible. Suspects have been held in Guantanamo for years with no charges, and then released for lack of evidence. Suspects have been subjected to so-called "enhanced interrogation", and then released for lack of evidence. A German citizen, after being flown to various Black Sites around the Globe by the CIA finally was released afoot in the middle of nowhere in Germany...in the middle of the night. For months, his family had no idea where he was. Put yourself in his or their shoes. It's no wonder to me that the government of the USA (and for that matter, the UK as well) is becoming more & more hated around the world. They don't hate you for your Freedom Bush-Cheney; they hate you for your terrorism. [We'll get to Obama shortly.]
Presumption of innocence and anything resembling due process apparently are gone...or very well hidden. The use of weaponized drones against civilians (suspects) has become the new norm under our Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning President. As reported on Democracy Now!, apparently for every ONE terrorist SUSPECT killed by drones, TWENTY-EIGHT unidentified people are killed by the same means. The Administration can claim "precision" in these murders because anyone killed by a weaponized drone automatically is designated by the military as an EKIA...Enemy Killed in Action. If anyone can prove otherwise, then the person is de-listed as an enemy... of course, he/she is dead by then. A drone operator on the job for six years finally quit because he had grave doubts about how "suspects" are identified. It seems to me that it should be paramount to be certain we are not killing innocent civilians. One poor soul in Pakistan has been trying for years to get justice for the slaughter of members of his family...one a child and another a grandmother. We should all be ashamed and enraged at the same time, but very few seem to care.
The Oligarchs, our President chief among them, have made sure that the psychological/emotional cost to most of us for this so-called "war" is very little to none. Even the financial cost is well hidden...it's all borrowed money, to be paid by our posterity. [They'll pay the interest on the debt; the U.S. Gov't has no intention whatsoever of repaying the principal...because that's not possible. We never could do it; the National Debt simply is too large. That's why, sometime in the future, countries of the world will reject the dollar as the world's reserve currency. Shortly after that happens, barring unforeseen circumstances, the Great Depression of the '30s will look like a picnic compared to the economy that will be experienced.] Obama claims that none of this really is war; instead, it's "counter-terrorism". That's code, or Gov't-Speak, for Perpetual War. The Oligarchs and their puppets have dropped the phrase, "WAR on Terror" or "WAR on Terrorism" (which, by the way, first was coined by the Reagan Administration) because people eventually saw through it. Now it's "counter-terrorism" or "defending the homeland". In any case, SUSPECTS are being grossly mistreated... or murdered outright. In the process, U.S. troops and other military personnel are expected to have Law Enforcement skills. It's no wonder that more vets have committed suicide than have been killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military actions encourage more terrorism; Law Enforcement actions prevent more terrorist acts.
In addition to Obama's egregious drone operations, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) assassination squads continue to operate. Where is the civilian oversight? Where is the proof of guilt relative to the victims? [I still haven't seen a shred of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Osama was responsible for 9-11. The video in which a supposed Osama was sitting around with cohorts admitting guilt was a sham. I could instantly see that was not Osama bin Laden.] Where is the accountability regarding the murder of innocent civilians by drone attacks? Are We the People so propagandized that we've abandoned all concepts of fairness and justice? Has the Fed Gov't (at the highest levels) itself become a terrorist organization? Why is it that when "they" murder innocent people, it's terrorism; but when "we" do it, it's "collateral damage", or "the price of war"?
Terrorists are CRIMINALS, not soldiers. Suspects are just that. In an ethical society, they must be accorded due process...no matter how emotionally painful that may be. Apparently we do not live in an ethical society. Obama can't seem to make up his mind. Some terrorist suspects he has taken to trial in civilian court. Others are locked down in Gitmo for a decade or so...with no formal charges. Others simply are killed. Suspects. This whole scenario is a genuine travesty... as was the case of Mary Elizabeth Surratt.
Not just my opinion. Be Well