|BuzzFlash News Analysis|
June 10, 2005
|NEWS ANALYSIS ARCHIVES|
GOP House Judiciary Chair Uses Pinochet Tactics to Abruptly and Unilaterally Shut Down Hearing Into Abuses of the (Un)Patriot Act, Because He Was Afraid the Truth Would Come Out. America: "IT" is Happening Here. Democracy is Being Dismantled by GOP Thugs.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
This morning, House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) unilaterally and arbitrarily shut down committee hearings on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act without comment or issuing a statement. Sensenbrenner gaveled the committee hearings in the middle of witnesses testifying about human and civil rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, racial profiling of individuals of Middle Eastern descent, prolonged detentions of Americans after September 11th and other abuses.
The suppression of free speech and testimony in the congressional committee in charge of protecting our civil liberties shows the Republican’s power grab has no limits and no decency. The irony was not lost on anyone.
The witnesses appearing before the House Judiciary Committee included, Chip Pitts, Chair of the Board of Amnesty International USA; Dr. James J. Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute; Deborah Pearlstein, Director of the U.S. Law and Security Program “Human Rights First”; and Carlina Tapia Ruano of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
The witnesses were called by the indomitable Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) who continues to stand up to the right-wing’s attempt to eviscerate American Constitutional liberties.
“There are few issues that are more important to this Committee or this Congress than the Patriot Act and the war against terror. This not only affects the rights and privacy of every American, but impacts the extent to which our nation is able to hold itself out as a beacon of liberty as we advocate for democracy around the world,” said Congressman Conyers as he opened the committee hearings.
Sixteen provisions in the USA Patriot Act are expiring because Rep. Conyers fought for sunset provisions to keep the erosion of civil liberties from becoming permanent when the Patriot Act was first introduced in the fervor following September 11th. Now the Bush administration is seeking to not only reauthorize but expand the reach and power of the Patriot Act, such as giving the FBI the ability to issue secret wire taps and conduct searches without warrants approved by a federal judge. A policy tantamount to creating a secret police force above the rule of law.
“Rather than making us safer, the abuses and excesses of our war against terrorism are actually tarnishing our nation's reputation and making us less safe,” said Conyers.
Chip Pitts of Amnesty International USA in his written statement to be addressed to the House Judiciary Committee – before Sensenbrenner effectively muzzled him and other witnesses – observed that the Patriot Act has a “chilling affect on freedom.” Pitts added “the law jeopardizes due process and fair trial procedures by encouraging a presumption of guilt until proven innocent. …The Patriot Act is of concern both in itself, and also because it has inspired a significant cascade of similar legislation around the world that weakens the rule of law which is so essential to the protection of human rights.”
The overarching fear with expanding the Patriot Act is the lack of oversight given to judges, the denial of due process to American citizens such as keeping detainees from the right to see a lawyer, and the broad discretion given to police and homeland security officials in the Bush administration. You can be labeled a suspected terrorist, if not presumed guilty, if the Bush administration says you are. The secretive Busheviks appear more interested in obtaining Stalin-like police powers than in protecting Americans from terrorism.
Sensenbrenner's Soviet-style tactic of gaveling a meeting to end it because he didn't like what he heard about the Bushevik abuses of our civil liberties is a horrifying example of what America faces if the GOP one-party state is given expanded police powers to invade the rights of Americans.
“The governments that are most effective in safeguarding human security are those that operate strictly under the rule of law: that is, under a system in which people are governed by public laws that are set in advance, applied equally in all cases,” said Deborah Pearlstein, Director, U.S. Law and Security Program who was called to testify.
The Bush administration has routinely flouted the rule of law since September 11th claiming the need for broad police powers to protect security and prevent terrorism. But the Bush administration as well as Department of Justice and Homeland Security officials have been routinely discredited and rebuked for their actions. They have repeatedly initiated arrests and invasions of privacy for public relations purposes, only to drop charges later.
In short, many Americans and organizations just don’t trust the Bush administration, and rightly so after a systematic pattern of abuse and erosion of the Constitution. The Busheviks are clearly using the fear of terrorism as a means to consolidate dictatorship like powers.
What member of Congress in their right mind could possibly consider giving more power to an Administration that endorses torture and indefinite detentions?
Democracies do not fail overnight. They slowly erode and descend by denying rights to the minority, the takeover of an independent judiciary, suppressing speech and assembly, and the rise of secrecy and repressive police powers in the executive branch.
Sensenbrenner’s belligerent act to shut down dissent and gag witnesses warning about the broad police powers given to the administration should give Americans pause as the Republican Party inches closer and closer to turning American into a one-party state.
The witnesses to the Bushevik violations of our Constitution, civil liberties, and individual rights valiantly continued to speak after Sensenbrenner formally shut down the hearing (probably as a result of a phone call from the White House). But their voices were hardly heard, which was the objective of the Busheviks.
What makes the barbarians in the White House shudder most is a bright light of truth reaching the American public.
They have been unusually successful in intimidating the media into enabling their lies. Now, they are just preemptively breaking laws and the rules of Congress to suppress the truth.
It can happen here, and it is.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
Video: Rep. Sensenbrenner Gets Angry, Abruptly Ends Hearing, Posted on Fri Jun 10th, 2005