Friday, December 02, 2011
"Shut Up, You Don't Get A Lawyer"
"To those American citizens thinking about helping al-Qaida, please know what will come your way: death, detention, prosecution. If you are thinking about plotting with the enemy inside our country to do the rest of us harm, please understand what is coming your way: the full force of the law. The law I am talking about is the law of armed conflict. You subject yourself to being held as an enemy of the people of the United States, interrogated about what you know and why you did what you did or planned to do, and you subject yourself to imprisonment and death. The reason you subject yourself to that regime is because your decision to turn on the rest of us and help a group of people who would destroy our way of life is not something we idly accept. It is not a common, everyday crime. It is a decision by you to commit an act of aggression against the rest of us....It is not unfair to make an American citizen account for the fact that they decided to help al-Qaida to kill us all and hold them as long as it takes to find intelligence about what may be coming next. And when they say 'I want my lawyer,' you tell them 'Shut up. You don't get a lawyer....You are an enemy combatant, and we are going to talk to you about why you joined al-Qaida.'"
— Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on the floor of Congress, Wed. Nov. 30
"If we can't hold an American citizen who has chosen to be a member of al-Qaida and has participated in a belligerent act against our country to ask them what other attacks they are planning and whom they are working with, how are we going to get information to make sure that--God forbid--we can prevent another 9/11 on our soil, because that is why they want to come to the United States of America. Also, how do we deal with this issue of homegrown radicals?"
— Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte in the same debate
The occasion was a debate over whether to resolve ambiguous language resulting from the heinous post-9/11 emergency laws like the Patriot Act that suggests American citizens or people inside the United States might be subject to the same extra-legal military repression now allowed by these new laws. These new laws mean that thousands of people are held in secret and no-so-secret jails outside the United States indefinitely awaiting "miltary justice," whatever that is. The Republicans want these laws to apply to American citizens as well; some Democrats are mounting not an opposition to these repressive laws but only to the notion that they should apply to U.S. citizens. According to the NY Times, the vote after this horrifying discussion was inconclusive, and the legal ambiguity stays for now, perhaps subject to future high-court resolution.
But ponder what this means. For all these politicians' talk about people choosing to join Al Qaeda and thus declaring war against the U.S. and therefore being considered combatants awaiting the end of a conflict, what they are now making perfectly clear is that they want the right to accuse anyone they want of high crimes — including American citizens — and not have to prove a thing. That means if Lindsey Graham says you or I is a terrorist, we go to jail. For as long as he wants. And you and I do not have a single solitary right to protest or defend ourselves. No evidence necessary. No right of appeal. No nothing. No rights at all. And these Senators are literally and clearly advocating that.
There is a name for the kind of society that acts like that. This is not about preventing another 911, this is about repression and stifling political dissent. A friend of mine on Facebook posted a song about the Mothers of the "Disappeared" in Argentina's dirty war of right-wing repression and asks, now, of the U.S.: "How long until our friends and neighbors begin disappearing? Will anyone write a song for their mothers?" That is what the Lindsey Grahams and Kelly Ayottes of the U.S. government are asking for: the right to disappear anyone who disagrees with them.
You owe it to yourself to hear Senator Graham say "Shut Up You Don't Get a Lawyer" in his own shrill, venomous voice. You can here a snippet of his time on the Senate floor in this report at NPR's Morning Edition. Click here.