The World Has Changed Forever

On September 12, 2001, George Bush stood atop a pile of rubble in New York and announced the world had changed forever. For the most part, it’s changed in ways few foresaw and without many rational, presumptive changes ever quite taking root, but it has changed, just as he promised.

For most of us, the biggest change has been in how little Dear LeaderTM cares for the individual freedoms he swore to defend and protect. For others - most notably families that lost someone that day - the world changed in a more fundamental and visceral way. Now, these seemingly different types of loss have converged.

El Jefe and the congress are once again at loggerheads over FISA laws. Since Day 1, the flaccid republican and democratic congresses have repeatedly given in to the President’s whims and then some. Congress has proposed a measly 15 day delay in considering a FISA renewal, but the Defender of His FateTM has threatened a veto. And as usually happens when he doesn’t get his way, he launched another fear bomb to justify it, “Terrorists are planning new attacks on our country … that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The Prez Who Cried Wolf
This terrorist threat is identical to dozens of other admonitions. Under that blanket excuse, he’s rolled back just about every civil liberty we once enjoyed, while the final word has never been validated by the courts. He admits he’s spied on US citizens in an apparent contravention of the Constitution. However, instead of an apology he simply demands more power, like Congress giving telecom companies protection from prosecution if they broke the law (which they already have).

His justification?

“If these companies are subjected to lawsuits that could cost them billions of dollars, they won’t participate. They won’t help us. They won’t help protect America.

Loyalty, At a Price
In other words, we must pay multinational phone companies to retain their loyalty, rather than being the upstanding, selfless citizens we expect ourselves to be. That sounds a lot like buying off an Afghan warlord to be our BFF (and likely with similar results). It’s the type of behavior we’ve come to expect from the administration and is directly linked to the dubious premise that prisoners can be held without trial and without adequate legal representation. That’s hardly a fairness exemplar for “emerging democracies” like Iraq.

As some of the Guantanamo “disappeared” start preparing for trial, it’s obvious that “trials” in Bushspeak mean something very different than what most of us expect under the law. In Dubya’s steely legal mind, “trial” means take away anything good for the defendant and allow the prosecution to do anything they damn well please. This seems curious behavior for an administration that claims to have mountains of evidence condemning the detainees, yet can’t allow the defense to see any of it, even under strict secrecy provisions. It suggests the World’s Sole Remaining SuperpowerTM” might have some intelligence that doesn’t stand up in a legitimate court of law - which brings us to the families victimized by September 11.

Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes
These families have already paid dearly for the actions of some religious crazies. If anyone should be entitled to revenge, it would be them. Yet through their grief, they understand something that George and the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight don’t - civil liberties are important. So important, the families are worried about what will happened when the Kangaroo Courts start. They realize that to give up so many of our personal freedoms seems to make their sacrifices in vain.

The world has changed since September 11, and not for the better. We’ve become a country under siege - not by some skinny asshat in a Pakistani cave - but by our own government. Don’t get me wrong, I have no compunction about doling out swift and fearsome punishment where it’s due. I just happen to believe - as do the victims’ families - that the judgement should be fair and open, not some excuse for a git to use as a campaign ploy.

I’m proud to stand with the victim’s families on that score. However, the country and the world would be a much better place if the Bushes, Cheneys, and AT&Ts of the world did the same.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

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