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September 27, 2006

Time To Make Your Reservations On The Shuttle To Mars

Glenn Greenwald, Hilzoy and especially Digby have already said most of what there is to say about this part of the declassified Key Judgments of the terrorism NIE:

Anti-US and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests. The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously in the Internet age.

But it's worth saying it again: this is REALLY REALLY REALLY weird and alarming, particularly in conjunction with the latest draft (pdf) of the Geneva Conventions/War Crimes bill. Here's one of its definitions of what makes someone an "unlawful enemy combatant":

(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant

Note being a U.S. citizen doesn't prevent you from becoming an "unlawful enemy combatant." Note also that you don't have to do anything affecting the U.S., just a "co-belligerent"—which is defined as:

any State or armed force joining and directly engaged with the United States in hostilities or directly supporting hostilities against a common enemy.

When you put all this together, I doubt there's anyone on earth who, if the U.S. government wanted, couldn't become an unlawful enemy combatant. Including you.

• you gave money to Greenpeace, and then they staged a die-in at a polluting Japanese military facility? Unlawful enemy combatant

• you wrote letters in support of Christian Peacemaker Teams which then tried to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank? Unlawful enemy combatant

• you traveled to the World Social Forum, which organized demonstrations against the World Bank, which caused "economic damage" to the G-8? Unlawful enemy combatant

This is precisely, exactly, 100% the kind of the law that authoritarian governments have had on their books throughout history as they merrily tortured and killed their own citizens. Now it's coming to the U.S. It's no joke.

AGAIN: Go read Digby, Glenn Greenwald and Hilzoy.

AND: Before we board the rocket off this planet, we must all read the Top 176 Star Wars Lines Improved By Replacing A Word With "Pants" (via)

Posted at September 27, 2006 07:32 PM | TrackBack

If you read that whole list, the increasing weirdness of the word "pants" almost throws you off-kilter enough to not be mad/sad for a couple seconds. Damn.

Posted by: rAD at September 27, 2006 10:28 PM

That's funny. It reminds me of when I was taking a class in the mid-90s with a Nicole Brown, and even though it was a fairly small class and the instructor's assistant probably knew all of our names by the end of September, he persisted in calling roll so he could call her name with a certain supposedly droll intonation. She was surprisedly good-natured about it, even though it was pretty clear she was aware of his attempt at humor.

As far as the shuttle goes, I don't think even could get me on board. Will I go to jail if I gas up at Citgo?

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at September 28, 2006 12:13 AM

I know that this is a solemn moment in the short history of America however I just cannot let one certain misconception concerning our four legged friends the frogs lay unchallenged.

The old wives tale goes like this: If you put a frog in a pan of water and slowly bring it to a boil the frog will just sit there until it dies. This is on the same level as bats will get tangled in your hair, another old wives tale that I intend to debunk in the near future. The fact is frogs have the same will to survive that you and I do and will not just sit placidly in a pan of water no matter how slowly you bring it to a boil and die. The frog will jump out of the pan when it becomes uncomfortable which has been demonstrated through serious experimentation. Unfortunately democrats don't have the common sense God gave a frog and will sit by picking their noses as the heat gets turned up until they reach a point of ossification that they presently exist at.

In other words we are completely, irrevocably and thoroughly fucked.

However there is another side to humanity other than that illustrated by Bush and in times of trouble and turmoil one can find a moment of relief knowing that there is more to mankind than pure insanity. Thus we may turn to Juan Ramon Jimenez and this poem he wrote called Hora Inmensa.

Hora Inmensa

Only a bell and a bird break the stillness…

It seems that the two talk with the setting sun.

Golden colored silence, the afternoon is made of crystals.

A roving purity sways the cool trees,

and beyond all that,

a transparent river dreams that trampling over pearls

it breaks loose

and flows into infinity.

Posted by: rob payne at September 28, 2006 01:33 AM

As Jonathan said:
>>Note being a U.S. citizen doesn't prevent you from becoming an "unlawful enemy combatant."

Well, I just read the draft that was linked to, although it seems that U.S. citizens can be "unlawful enemy combatants", the relavent sections of the law SPECIFICALLY talk about "alien" (non-US-citizen) unlawful enemy combatants being subject to military commision and not being afforded the right of a habeas corpus petition.

I'm not saying this bill is GOOD, I'm just saying that from my amateur reading of the bill, US citizens aren't in any more danger of being denied the right of Habeas Corpus than Jose Padilla was.
I realize this may not be very comforting. I just feel we should be specific (and correct) about what is so bad about the bill.

Posted by: Aaron at September 28, 2006 01:56 AM

Aaron, if I'm reading you correctly, I think you're missing the point of your own example. Jose Padilla was denied the right of habeas corpus, and the Bush administration knowingly violated one of the most basic tenets of our constitution, even after being reminded of its illegality by the Supreme Court. They held out on this point for several years. Don't forget, Padilla was held because he was 'suspected' of plotting to carry out an act of science fiction.

My point is that over the last five years the Bush administration has clearly demonstrated its propensity to view domestic and international law (and treaties, and universally agreed-upon conventions) as mere political inconveniences. Just because their time in office is short doesn't mean their dangerous precedent can't be expounded upon by subsequent administrations.

Very few brutal totalitarian states become such overnight. These things occur gradually. It takes a deadly combination of arrogance, stupidity, and naivete to convince oneself that "it can't happen here." It is already happening here; just because the flames aren't licking at your own butt today, it doesn't mean they won't be tomorrow.

Posted by: Church Secretary at September 28, 2006 06:27 AM

The worst part is, all of this occurs outside of the domain of the judicial system entirely, so there's no possibility of legal precedent pigeon-holing the rather broadly-interpretable "unlawful enemy combatant" down to something reasonable. It's entirely up to executives to interpret it as they like. Which is even more scary - when did they escape judicial/legal oversight? This blows.

Posted by: saurabh at September 28, 2006 06:52 AM

Sing along, everybody!

I'm proud to be an American,
Where at least I know I'm free...

Or... Um...

Well, shit.

Posted by: The Idiot at September 28, 2006 10:03 AM

Trent Lott, strange visitor from another planet goes where no man has gone before.

Although Trent has given up burning crosses his frequent visits from planet Mars to planet Earth has given us the stereotype of the stupid politician and while I will be the first to admit that Trent has great hair and looks like an earthling I have come to suspect that he is actually not an earthling.

Via Bob Harris via This Modern World.

Here is what Trent “Klatu” Lott has to say in order to shed light in a dark place.

"It's hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what's wrong with these people," he said. "Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israeli's and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me."

* * * * *

Now look closely at the picture at thinkprogress and notice, without barfing if possible, where Gorgeous Georgeous, standing next to Trent, is looking. That is right he is looking up at Mars and one can see the wheels turning as he plans his next invasion.

Trent Lott, space alien, George Bush, alpha ape, together they will pursue all escapees from planet Earth to the ends of the universe. Even Mars will not be a safe haven from the dynamic duo.

Posted by: rob payne at September 28, 2006 10:31 PM

I get a sick feeling that more racist elements in our society will push for this to be expanded to include illegal immigrants (read: Mexicans), since they're, y'know, illegal.

"So this is how democracy pantses; to thunderous applause."

Posted by: jrm78 at September 29, 2006 09:28 AM