Thursday, September 28, 2006

Let Your Voice Be Heard NOW!

The madness has got to stop and we, as a nation, have the power to bring it all to a screeching halt. If hundreds and thousands of illegal immigrants can organize, walk off their jobs and flood the streets demanding change, the least we can do is make a couple of phone calls.

The U.S. Senate is RIGHT NOW debating over OUR future. (S. 3901 - Military Commissions Act) is a bill that will give unprecedented powers to the Executive branch; powers that will enable the President to arrest and detain indefinitely just about anyone in the continental U.S. - even legal American citizens. And that's just scratching the surface. Take a look at some of this bill's huge flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

Read enough? But WAIT, there's MORE! Tomorrow, the Senate will debate another bill, this one, (S. 2453 - National Security Surveillance Act), will allow the government to spy legally on us without a warrant and give Bush immunity for past spying Warrantless spying. It opens the door to so many egregious violations of the Constitution that it makes my head spin.

So, what can WE do to make our voices heard? Pick up the phone and call your Senator. Call the Republicans. Call the Democrats. It doesn't matter what your party affiliation - this affects all of us little people. I'm in Florida and I called both Senator Mel Martinez AND Senator Bill Nelson.

If you need the phone number of YOUR Senator's office, click here.

It only takes a few minutes. Be patient, the phones are ringing off the hook with people voicing their grand displeasure at this assault on the Bill of Rights! Be pleasant with the phone staff, they are just doing their jobs and aren't directly responsible for anything but delivering your message to the Senator. FLOOD the Capitol switchboards - let them know that you don't support these bills and that your Senator, whom YOU elected to represent YOU in Washington, should reflect the views of his/her constituency or plan to get voted out of office.

America was not founded on the principles of torture and spying on its own citizens. If you agree - make the call TODAY!

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