...And Justice disappeared Thursday, September 28, 2006, when the United States Congress voted to debase the Constitution, to deny habeas corpus rights to "enemy combatants," people designated as such on the President's word alone; when the U.S. Congress voted to allow the President to set the rules for what kinds of torture is acceptable for agents of the United States Government to inflict on our prisoners; when the U.S. Congress voted to allow hearsay evidence at military tribunals, to deny defendants the right to see what evidence is being used against them, and to deny defendants the right to face their accusers...
...We can't send our good military men and women into illegal and immoral wars, and then cut their pay, their schooling and survivor benefits, not adequately fund their health care, or the growing need for prosthetics for amputated limbs, or mental health services for PTSD. We can't continue to redeploy people time after time after time. We can't keep recalling discharged members to come serve again. ...
It is amazing to me that, here in the United States of America, Congress is discussing the fine points of torture -- what is legal, how far can we go in mistreating prisoners we are holding, without our agents being prosecuted under national and international law and treaties.
How far we have fallen, that this is even an issue. I grew up being taught that torture is what other "bad" countries did to their enemies, and that here in America we were better than that, above that...
We refuse to sign the international treaty to ban land mines,
despite the fact that a woman from Vermont won the Nobel Peace Prize a
few years ago for her non-profit organization's success in bringing the
issue to the attention of so many world governments. Ostensibly our
excuse is that we need anti-personnel land mines (along with anti-tank
land mines) to protect our troops in the demilitarized zone between
North and South Korea. Except now those two enemies are in negotiations,
with a possible reunification being openly discussed. If those two
warring countries settle their differences and the demilitarized zone
goes away, will we then sign the international treaty? What will be our
And why is the United States not the leader on this issue, instead
of a recalcitrant obstacle?
What kind of thought processes go on in those brains that they can
so totally separate the ultimate sacrifices of our fallen heroes from
the freedoms those loved ones died to protect, or the marching on
Washington from the politicians they are marching to impress?
If our democratic system is so misunderstood - and these are not
isolated cases - it certainly goes a long way toward explaining why this
country is in the mess it's in.
No matter how you count, the U.S. Army School of the Americas is a violation of everything we stand for and should be closed immediately.
It is time we taught our military personnel that real men do not need to abuse other people. It is time we taught our military personnel that violence is only appropriate in very rare, carefully directed circumstances to forestall a greater harm - and never appropriate at home.
They were there when they were needed, and they did what they had to do, because they knew it was important. And they did it for me. For you. For all the millions of faceless people they never knew, along with the hundreds and thousands they did know, and who knew their names. They did it so you and I could spend another Memorial Day weekend, and another week and another year of our lives, in peace within our borders.
As a citizen of the United States of America, I treasure that commitment to a country, and to a philosophy of government founded on the respect for diversity of all of its people. It is a commitment that ennobles us all, and points out, as no other gesture could, the power and importance of love in our lives and in our world.
I contend - and I seem to be alone in this - that our military budget is for our national defense. It is not a jobs program. If we need jobs programs in this country - and I think we do - let's call it that, focus on it, and fund it separately. Hiding a jobs program in our inefficient military budget makes no sense. Paying people to do work that we know is no longer necessary is a classic example of the "pork barrel" problem that has gotten us into this budget mess to begin with.
People who do not respect people of other genders or sexual orientation should not be issued weapons and taught how to kill.