That Magical Water’s Edge

Newt Gingrich said not long ago that it was wrong to treat any and all terrorists as criminals—with no apparent exception for American citizens arrested on American soil.  The question, though, is how do we know somebody arrested on American soil is a terrorist, unless the government proves it to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt?  Apparently the one crime for which the mere accusation suffices as proof of guilt is terrorism.  The Republicans also object to “reading terrorists their Miranda rights,” because it makes it harder to get information out of them—presumably by “harsh interrogation techniques” (aka torture).

I guess we need an exception to Bill of Rights, to wit: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, unless the government accuses him of being a terrorist.”

But (scratching head) I still can’t quite understand how the government is so trustworthy that we can safely take its accusations of terrorism at face value, and hold Americans without trial or even torture them, when we expect it to actually prove other criminal accusations.

I guess it’s just another illustration of that magical phenomenon by which politics stops at the water’s edge. As Madison said, “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”  So I guess “men” become angels at the water’s edge, as well.

Of course, on the unlikely chance that we didn’t have an angel in the Oval Office at a particular time, this loophole might seem to offer some mighty powerful temptations to a mere mortal.  If the President wanted to round up political enemies, without all the fuss and bother over that darned old “due process of law,” all he’d have to do is accuse them of terrorism.  Come to think of it, I vaguely recall something about a chief executive somewhere actually doing something like that—something about a fire, maybe?

Good thing that, thanks to the miracle of American Exceptionalism, no non-angel is ever in charge of American foreign policy.

But wait—aren’t the people who complain about Obama “reading terrorists their Miranda rights” frequently the very same people who accuse him of being a “socialist,” “fascist,” or “Marxist”?  Aren’t the same people who (rightly) opposed Clinton on the Balkan Wars, and suggest Obama might “play the war  card” in 2012?  So in reality, it’s apparently only Republican men who become angels at the water’s edge.

And the Republicans are demanding that Obama, as commander-in-chief, claim the power to detain American citizens on the mere accusation of being terrorists, with no judicial oversight or due process whatsoever.  They’re demanding that Obama exercise such powers, creating a precedent that can be seized on not only by future angelic Republican commanders-in-chief, but also by Democratic fascist/socialist/Marxists who may even have been born in some foreign country like Hawaii!

Not only are the Republicans apparently unaware that police state and national security powers claimed by a Republican President can be subsequently used by a Democratic President, but they’re actually urging Obama—that fascist whose photoshopped visage leered at us in townhall meetings all across America, and who throws Glenn Beck into a crying fit nearly every day—to use them right now!

I guess there’s a reason conservatives are called the Stupid Party.

I guess I’ve got less faith in the inherent goodness of human nature than those bleeding heart Republicans, but I really don’t trust anyone of either party with that kind of unlimited power.

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