Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Democracy The Big Loser on Habeas Corpus

Ralph Nader

The messianic, authoritarian George W. Bush and the minds of his cohorts have further collapsed the rule of law with his bulldozing through a divided Congress more dictatorial powers in his increasingly self-defined, self-serving and failing "war on terror."

The normally restrained /New York Times/ in an editorial titled "Rushing off a Cliff" condemned Bush's "ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217 year-old nation of laws-while doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser."

Bush has concentrated so much arbitrary power in his Presidency that he can be described in the vernacular as the torturer-in-chief, the jailer-in-chief and the arrestor-in-chief. Who needs the courts? Who needs the constitutional rights to habeas corpus for defendants to be able to argue that they were wrongfully arrested or capriciously imprisoned indefinitely without being charged?

The only light at the end of this Bush tunnel comes from many law professors and knowledgeable members of Congress, such as Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), who believe that when this law reaches the Supreme Court, its offending and vague provisions will be declared unconstitutional. But that will take two years and in the meantime King George can continue expanding his massively losing tally of arrests, detentions and imprisonment of innocent people who are tortured or mistreated, isolated and defenseless.

As both military attorneys and civilian pro bono attorneys for those imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have declared-the vast majority of the nearly 700 "detainees" were innocent from the get-go, victims of bounty hunters in Afghanistan and neighboring countries who "sold" them for cash to intermediaries who turned them over to the U.S. military for transfer to Cuba. All these "catches" made George W. Bush look like he was really rounding up all those evil terrorists - like cab drivers, British tourists of Pakistani descent and so forth.

Timed for the November elections, Bush moves on Congress, complete with his minions there issuing McCarthyite press releases accusing opposing Democrats, in the words of House Speaker, Dennis Hastert (R - Ill.), of voting "in favor of MORE rights for terrorists." (His emphasis)

All this shameless, anti-American unconstitutional bile from the Bushites comes in the midst of his own top intelligence people reporting that their President's war in Iraq is providing a recruitment and training ground for growing numbers of terrorists in Iraq and from other countries. Earlier, Bush's own CIA Director, Porter Goss, told a Senate Committee the same thing. Bush's own generals in Iraq also agree. Critics call it pouring gasoline on a raging fire.

Nonetheless, the closed mind of Mr. Bush, whose foreign-military policies have upset his mother and father deeply, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, tells Americans that our country will be in Iraq doing what it is doing right through his Administration's term ending in January 2009.

Never mind the mounting American casualties, which Bush and Cheney deliberately undercount (see www.democracyrising.us); never mind the destruction of Iraq, its enormous civilian casualties and a growing insurgency and sectarian violence that would not be there without the Bush occupation. Never mind Bush's sectarian preferences, the Bush economic decrees, puppet politics and the widely reported Bush blunders and massive corruption-waste registered by his corporate contracting friends engaged in reconstruction-so called.

So long as the lawyers and their bar associations in America do not challenge the advancing dictatorial powers of George W. Bush, so long as citizen groups, labor unions and libertarians, conservatives and liberals avoid uniting together, these constitutional crimes against due process, probable cause, habeas corpus, together with torture and indefinite imprisonment at the whim of the Executive branch, will worsen and erode American jurisprudence with serious consequences for both the nation's security and its liberties.

The White House is on a rampage. The President is a documented lawless, reckless, arrogant politician whose policies are fueling more terrorism in the Middle East. Nonetheless, he then turns around and demands more flagrant over-rides on constitutional safeguards in order to let him fight terrorism. Quite a convenient vicious circle by him to hoist his daily politics of fear on the country.

Remember that telling thought by the British Parliamentarian, Edmund Burke, at the time of the American Revolution: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and the author of "The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future" (2012). His new book is, "Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lies and Lawbreaking Betray All(2020, co-authored with Mark Green).

Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, "will go directly into the pockets" of Big Pharma shareholders.

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


Darnella Frazier Receives Pulitzer Special Citation 'for Courageously Recording the Murder of George Floyd'

"Without Darnella, Derek Chauvin never would have been tried and George Floyd would have been blamed by the state for his own death."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


'We Are Sounding the Alarm': Global Left Warns Right-Wing Fujimori Trying to Steal Election in Peru

"Fujimori’s only way forward to victory is simple: annul tens of thousands of already tallied votes," warned Progressive International. "Powerful forces are organizing to deliver this outcome."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


'Climate Denial Masquerading as Bipartisanship': Progressives Reject Latest Infrastructure Compromise

"Refusing to act on climate means selling out future generations. The future of our planet and the health of our communities are non-negotiable."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Conservationists Applaud Biden Plan to Reverse Trump Attack on Tongass National Forest

"Even if you live thousands of miles from the Tongass National Forest, you still benefit from its unique ability to fight climate change," said Earthjustice.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·