Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another Step Toward a Police State

Obama signed into law a bill that allows American citizens to be arrested (or, perhaps detained is a better word), even on U.S. soil, and held indefinitely at the Guantanamo detention facility. From The Guardian:
The law, contained in the defence authorisation bill that funds the US military, effectively extends the battlefield in the "war on terror" to the US and applies the established principle that combatants in any war are subject to military detention.

The legislation's supporters in Congress say it simply codifies existing practice, such as the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists at Guantánamo Bay. But the law's critics describe it as a draconian piece of legislation that extends the reach of detention without trial to include US citizens arrested in their own country.

"It's something so radical that it would have been considered crazy had it been pushed by the Bush administration," said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. "It establishes precisely the kind of system that the United States has consistently urged other countries not to adopt. At a time when the United States is urging Egypt, for example, to scrap its emergency law and military courts, this is not consistent."
 (More here).

Part of the problem is that U.S. law increasingly ignores any benefit for citizenship. Almost all of the rights that would normally be reserved to citizens--such as benefits of tax supported education and medical care, welfare benefits and social security--are shared by non-citizens. About the only right that citizens have over non-citizens is the right to vote, but the Federal government has eviscerated even this distinction by not allowing States to filter out non-citizens at the voting booths. As citizens, we are not even allowed our own language and culture, but instead must continually give way to those who have no desire to assimilate.

So, if there are only minimal, largely non-existent benefits to being a citizen, then it is a natural consequence that citizens should be treated no better than non-citizens as to criminal matters. Just another step down a long road.

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