Constitutionalists, liberty lovers, and those who recognize the true nature of the leviathan state rightfully despair of the latest law of the land. The Military Commission Act of 2006 is a disaster of epic proportions, as Keith Olbermann and others have noted.
This unfortunate law is a tsunami originating in the underground statism and overt imperialism of America in the 20th century. A critical disturbance has occurred deep below an ocean called "War on Terror," with its imagined fearsome fleet called "Islamofascism." It is a tectonic crash that resonates deeply in the generalized anxiety of Americans who vaguely sense that the future for their children is going to be very different than they hoped.
Americans should be anxious. The enemy is already inside the gates. In fact, the enemy now mans the gates. At the risk of being targeted sooner or later for anti-governmental think-crimes, let me be clear. The enemy manning our gates is any president occupying our nation’s unitary executive suites. Today, this is George W. Bush, with his puppetmasters, political playpen pals, and those associated with his administration and his political party. Tomorrow it will be another power hungry do-gooder who speaks of accountable government, while welcoming unlimited personal compromise, backroom deals, more war, less freedom, and other people’s money.
The tsunami of MCA 2006, like all tsunamis in the open ocean, causes no stir, no alarm. It gives little warning, and only those who understand the ocean and are watching for just such a disturbance notice what has happened.
Only when its energy is constrained by underwater mountains and solid coastlines will it become dangerous, destructive, and deadly. Innocent people will then be swept away, their investments and their livelihoods destroyed, their children, spouses, friends and lovers lost to them. When the eventual destruction of MCA 2006 strikes home, many of us will be forced to start over, if we survive at all.
But this was supposed to be an upbeat article! Where’s the fun, the merriment, the sheer delight that thinking and reflective creatures ought to take in all things state?
Imagine, dear reader, if you will, one of the first applications of this antiterrorist legislation, sans habeas corpus, flaunting all executive power, all the time. Young Mr. Bush is soon for the ranch, mumbling strangely to himself and his rare visitor about how he coulda been somebody (other than Nixon on crack). But it is the next Tyrant of the United States who will delight today’s contrarians.
Imagine — briefly — if you will, the pasty-faced, well-fed, overbearing Richard Perle, or the political canine David Frum. Imagine, if you will, our amusing curmudgeon of a Defense Secretary and his pal Dick Cheney.
Each of these has lauded, associated, and given moral, if not material support, to the Iranian terrorist group known as MeK.
According to past legislation, presidential signing statements and the MCA "Death to Habeas Corpus" Act of 2006, these lucky pundits, secretaries of defense, and vice presidents may be held incommunicado, without access to a lawyer, without being told of the "evidence" against them, without access to a court of law or an independent judge. Wait …I left something out. Held indefinitely. Perhaps secretly. Might they be bound and gagged, sexually humiliated, frightened by dogs or sub-standard enlistees and overzealous and poorly trained officers, or the odd contractor? Why not?
Far be it from me to wish evil on those who have dished out enough death, enough lawlessness, enough stupidity, and enough arrogance at home and in foreign countries like Afghanistan and Iraq for ten lifetimes. I am genuinely concerned that with a turn of the screw, the screws may be indeed be turned on these well-known, high-profile advocates of Iranian regime change.
Among the war lovers, perhaps some dormant awareness of the dangers of cavorting with someone else’s terrorist group exists. The American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Rubin and Michael Ledeen have both this year sought to publicly distance themselves from the MeK (while simultaneously associating the Democrats with the terrorist group). Rubin got in trouble in January 2006 with the less prudent of the war-rabid with an article entitled "Monsters of the Left: The Mujahedin al-Khalq." In July of this year, Ledeen, responding to assertions in James Bamford’s "Iran: The Next War," wrote that "I wouldn’t get within a hundred miles of the MEK."
Sorry? Can you speak up, Michael, and Dick and Don and Mr. Perle? The problem for these guys (beyond protesting too much) is that with habeas corpus no longer required, the search, detention, and indefinite imprisonment of people any reigning government or its civil servants find unsavory, untrustworthy, critical or adversarial — dare I say criminal? — is legal, and this law will be enforced in the name of Freedom, Peace, Democracy, and Security.
Will the ACLU or the antiwar movement truly and aggressively jump in to prevent figurative and literal waterboarding of those who promoted our police state at home, and cheered the creative destruction visited upon certain oil producing states abroad? Our native human weakness and moral opportunism finds its expression in organized politics, but is not political. We humans are, as ever, minutes from mob-hood, and we cultivate the very finest of short-term memories. We collectively froth at the bit to see harsh justice done to those we "know" to be guilty.
As the Republic crumbles before our eyes, we of the anti-war crowd may find a chuckle or two in the early applications of the Military Commission Act of 2006 by the next administration. And perhaps, as we whisper and tap out codes to our esteemed neoconservative cell-mates, we will get the answer as to why the United States really went to war in the Middle East.
Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for MilitaryWeek.com, hosted the call-in radio show American Forum, and blogs occasionally for Huffingtonpost.com and Liberty and Power. Archives of her American Forum radio program can be accessed here and here. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here. This article originally appeared on MilitaryWeek.com.