So called “Western society” is supposed to be the pinnacle of democracy, fairness, justice and tolerance. I’m proud of British history and when people look back on the 21st century I want them to be just as proud of our the achievements.
Sometimes I feel sorry for the Americans who have to put up with the Bush administration. For the most part, Europe and the UK have been spared such crazy things like software patents, the full extent of the Patriot Act and forced teaching of creationism as a scientific theory (it might be a theory but it sure as hell isn’t scientific). So when I read an article today on The Register about the Military Commissions Act of 2006 I was dismayed at the extent to which rights are being eroded in the USA in the name of democracy – as a “a “vital tool” in the war on terror”.
My political alignment is not clearly defined – I like ideas from all sides of the political compass. As a result I’m by no means a liberal, but I think that aspects of law enforcement such as judicial review, parliamentary review, the right to legal counsel, the right to not be tortured et al are crucial aspects to a fair and just legal system. That the removal of these aspects of a legal system (all be it concerned with military commissions) can actually pass through the legislative stages in the USA is beyond belief. What exactly is the purpose of Congress if it just passes these bills without any consideration for the key aspects of modern society that it will demolish? I know our government has tried similar things, but they always fail – our parliament works in that stupid ideas such as these cannot get through.
It is the job of the media to exaggerate to get a story, but even so actually looking at the text of the act reveals that what is being described in the article on The Register is true:
For the bill that he signed with such evident satisfaction has relieved the federal courts of their rights and duty to hear petitions for a writ of habeas corpus, which allow prisoners to challenge their confinement under Constitutional principles.
The new law, called the Military Commissions Act of 2006, will allow rough treatment during interrogations, so long as the President designates a practice not to be torture. But he is permitted to “interpret” international law forbidding torture to suit himself.
The government, not the courts, will now be deciding what is cruel and inhumane treatment. Only monstrous abuse, reaching the level of a war crime, such as rape, mutilation, and the like, are expressly forbidden. And prisoners will not be granted legal counsel during interrogations.
Another reason I will never, ever live in the USA.