Recent initiatives of U. S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft, serve to introduce our article. The piece below is from the Los Angeles Times of August 14, 2002.
CAMPS FOR CITIZENS: ASHCROFT'S HELLISH VISION
Attorney general shows himself as a menace to liberty.
Jonathan Turley is a
professor of Constitutional Law
at George Washington University.
Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for U.S. citizens he deems to be "enemy combatants" has moved him from merely being a political embarrassment to being a constitutional menace.
Ashcroft's plan, disclosed last week but little publicized, would allow him to order the indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip them of their constitutional rights and access to the courts by declaring them enemy combatants.
The proposed camp plan should trigger immediate congressional hearings and reconsideration of Ashcroft's fitness for this important office. Whereas Al Qaeda is a threat to the lives of our citizens, Ashcroft has become a clear and present threat to our liberties.
The camp plan was forged at an optimistic time for Ashcroft's small inner circle, which has been carefully watching two test cases to see whether this vision could become a reality. The cases of Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi will determine whether U.S. citizens can be held without charges and subject to the arbitrary and unchecked authority of the government.
Hamdi has been held without charge even though the facts of his case are virtually identical to those in the case of John Walker Lindh. Both Hamdi and Lindh were captured in Afghanistan as foot soldiers in Taliban units. Yet Lindh was given a lawyer and a trial, while Hamdi rots in a floating Navy brig in Norfolk, Va.
This week, the government refused to comply with a federal judge who ordered that he be given the underlying evidence justifying Hamdi's treatment. The Justice Department has insisted that the judge must simply accept its declaration and cannot interfere with the president's absolute authority in "a time of war."
In Padilla's case, Ashcroft initially claimed that the arrest stopped a plan to detonate a radioactive bomb in New York or Washington, D.C. The administration later issued an embarrassing correction that there was no evidence Padilla was on such a mission. What is clear is that Padilla is an American citizen and was arrested in the United States--two facts that should trigger the full application of constitutional rights.
Ashcroft hopes to use his self-made "enemy combatant" stamp for any citizen whom he deems to be part of a wider terrorist conspiracy.
Perhaps because of his discredited claims of preventing radiological terrorism, aides have indicated that a "high-level committee" will recommend which citizens are to be stripped of their constitutional rights and sent to Ashcroft's new camps.
Few would have imagined any attorney general seeking to reestablish such camps for citizens. Of course, Ashcroft is not considering camps on the order of the internment camps used to incarcerate Japanese American citizens in World War II. But he can be credited only with thinking smaller; we have learned from painful experience that unchecked authority, once tasted, easily becomes insatiable.
We are only now getting a full vision of Ashcroft's America. Some of his predecessors dreamed of creating a great society or a nation unfettered by racism. Ashcroft seems to dream of a country secured from itself, neatly contained and controlled by his judgment of loyalty.
For more than 200 years, security and liberty have been viewed as coexistent values. Ashcroft and his aides appear to view this relationship as lineal, where security must precede liberty.
Since the nation will never be entirely safe from terrorism, liberty has become a mere rhetorical justification for increased security.
Ashcroft is a catalyst for constitutional devolution, encouraging citizens to accept autocratic rule as their only way of avoiding massive terrorist attacks.
His greatest problem has been preserving a level of panic and fear that would induce a free people to surrender the rights so dearly won by their ancestors.
In "A Man for All Seasons," Sir Thomas More was confronted by a young lawyer, Will Roper, who sought his daughter's hand. Roper proclaimed that he would cut down every law in England to get after the devil.
More's response seems almost tailored for Ashcroft: "And when the last law was down and the devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? ... This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast ... and if you cut them down--and you are just the man to do it--do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?"
Every generation has had Ropers and Ashcrofts who view our laws and traditions as mere obstructions rather than protections in times of peril. But before we allow Ashcroft to denude our own constitutional landscape, we must take a stand and have the courage to say, "Enough."
Every generation has its test of principle in which people of good faith can no longer remain silent in the face of authoritarian ambition. If we cannot join together to fight the abomination of American camps, we have already lost what we are defending.
In 1938, Mr. 257 was concerned about persecutions of people of all religions under Hitler. He asked Cayce to suggest what American Jews and Gentiles might do to aid the German suffers. The answer he got was interesting:
A) There must be a change in the attitude of those who would be helpful, as well as in the manners of approach. These must be within, and not that as might be NOISED abroad.
Then we have the relevant part of 257's reading, in this exchange:
Q) What efforts should be put forth to prevent the same thing happening in the U.S.?
A) See that the Constitution is kept, and it can't!
There's little doubt that the reading's answer with respect to religious persecution in 1938 America could apply today, with respect to the construction of Ashcroft's camps. But will citizens, through their elected representatives, be able to stop Ashcroft in his tracks? Will the judicial branch of our government (the Supreme Court in all probability) be able to stop Ashcroft? Or will this issue of Ashcroft's power grab contribute to a dreadful division in our own land? (3976-24)
Unfortunately, the Constitution has a very limited role in the actions of our congressional representatives in Washington, D.C. If they had stuck to the Constitution as written, we would have no Federal Reserve, no U.S. membership in the UN, and would provide no foreign aid.
We would have no welfare for big corporations, no American troops in 100 foreign countries, no arrogant federal judges usurping states rights, no attacks on private property, and no income tax.
Thus, as Professor Turley recommends above, it is time to say, “Enough,” to John Ashcroft, the Justice Department, and their camps. We are sorry, but that's not our America. It's not what the Founders gave us. It's not the country we believe in.
The next few months will show the true character of all our political, economic, military, and media leaders. We will find out soon enough why the founding fathers wisely mistrusted centralized economic, military, and political power in the hands of a few people. The remaining question, then, is, “Will it be too late?”
Below find two brief articles to help us wake up, and to remind us to act by sending letters to our congresspersons. (Note that e-mails are not advised. Congressional aides just sort them out as Favorable or Unfavorable, or trash them altogether).
By Bill Petz 8-13-2
Consider this: An inarticulate, politically inexperienced man with family links to a previous national regime comes to provincial leadership. Subsequently he gains the highest national office without winning the popular vote. The election in which he was declared the victor is considered compromised by his brother's province. He appoints a chief law enforcement officer who has repeatedly called for constitutional revisions. Regulatory agencies are filled with those previously regulated. Soldiers patrol transportation centers. International treaties are abrogated. International legal organizations are shunned. Roles of police and military are blurred. Law enforcement agencies are centralized. Individual civil rights are reduced. A "shadow" government is created.
Domestic surveillance is increased. People are encouraged to spy on each other. Military budgets are increased. The military establishes a disinformation program. Media access to government is limited. Consultations with the legislative branch decline. Connections to corrupt corporate sponsors are disavowed. Efforts to further plunder natural resources for profit are initiated. Access to past administrations' documents is limited. A war mentality is established with imprecise enemies. Nebulous fear- inducing alerts are periodically released. National level profiling is introduced. People are imprisoned without public charges and unknown others are "disappeared."
Does the word "coup" come to mind?
by Timothy Lynch
Timothy Lynch is director of the Cato Institute's Project on Criminal Justice.
When terrorists perpetrate atrocities against innocent American civilians, the public response is initially one of shock, which then quickly turns into anger. It is also common for people to experience a deep sense of anxiety in the aftermath of such attacks-especially as they hear poignant stories about fellow citizens who were so suddenly and unexpectedly killed. Such stories are a harsh reminder of one's own mortality and vulnerability.
Government officials typically respond to terrorist attacks by proposing and enacting "antiterrorism" legislation. To assuage the wide-spread anxiety of the populace, policymakers make the dubious claim that they can prevent terrorism by curtailing the privacy and civil liberties of the people. Because everyone wants to be safe and secure, such legislation is usually very popular and passes the legislative chambers of Congress with lopsided majorities. As the president signs the antiterrorism bill into effect, too many people indulge in the assumption that they are now safe, since the police, with their newly acquired powers, will somehow be able to foil the terrorists before they can kill again. The plain truth, however, is that it is only a matter of time before the next attack.
This cycle of terrorist attack followed by government curtailment of civil liberties must be broken-or our society will eventually lose the key attribute that has made it great: freedom. The American people can accept the reality that the president and Congress are simply not capable of preventing terrorist attacks from occurring. Policymakers should stop pretending otherwise and focus their attention on combating terrorism within the framework of a free society.
Finally, we might ponder the words of Halaliel given in 3976-15. When asked to provide “information regarding the spiritual, mental, and physical changes which are coming to the Earth,” the archangel responded:
Q) Is America fulfilling her destiny?
A) Rather should the question be sought, my children, are individuals fulfilling those channels to which they have been brought through their own application of the knowledge within themselves to fulfill their position? For each and every one, each and every nation, is led - even as in heaven. For that ye see in earth is a PATTERN of that in the MIND, as ye well know, and is as a shadow of spiritual truth, life and light. Is America as a whole? This is as has been given. If there is not the acceptance in America of the closer brotherhood of man, the love of the neighbor as self, civilization must wend its way westward - and again must Mongolia, must a hated people, be raised.
It is filling its destiny? Is it filling, rather, its place, that destined in the experience of peoples, of a nation? What have ye done with the knowledge that ye have respecting the relationships of thy Creator to thy fellow man? and hast thou made known that ye know of His ways, God's ways, among thy fellows? Yea, here and there, as ye have seen, America has become not only the greater of these that have sent those that would make known secular ways but has also - does harbor within its bosom those things of other lands that are making, as it were, a leaven to the whole. And here, there - for, as given, His messenger shall appear there. Hence, is finding those that make the paths straight.
Note: One can obtain a pocket version of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution from the non-profit Cato Institute at 1000 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001 for $1.00.
Master the “no's” and “not's” set forth in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and insist with all the reason one can muster that the taboos limiting runaway power be observed strictly. If we would bequeath to our children that which our Founding Fathers bequeathed to us, this is the price.