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Posts Tagged ‘Geneva Convention’

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“The flag flying over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t.”
Long Walk Home, Bruce Springsteen.

 

The words in the song above mean a lot to me. I grew up believing in the best that America has to offer. The fifties were over, the illegal and immoral witch-hunts that were known as the McCarthy Trials under the guise of the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee were finally shut down and Kennedy was in the White House. Things were younger, more intelligent and wiser than before, the Oval Office was filled with “The Best and the Brightest” and I felt that I was growing up in a country that I could trust. A country that would look out for me as I grew older, that I would never think of leaving, that would somehow find a way past it’s racist history and divisiveness and we would all grow old together in the soft warmth of freedom and equality and peace. I was a patriot in the truest sense of the word. One that would never wear it on his sleeve, one that didn’t need a flag waving on his porch to prove anything, In fact, I still am that same type of patriot. That’s what has me so very sad. It isn’t that I love my country less, but that I hate what it’s doing even more.

The song, Long Walk Home, isn’t about a guy whose car is broken down. It’s a very moving song about how far America has fallen off the ideals it was founded upon. The lofty ambitious promises we learned to love and almost to recite proverbial word for proverbial word as children. America loves to make big promises. It was based upon them, in a sense. Give us your tired, your poor, your hungry, your oppressed, the old saying went.

People around the world once believed these promises because the government was one they felt they could trust. People flocked to America from every corner of the world to try their fates there, some to escape oppression at home, others not in the hopes of striking it rich quick, but simply searching for a life they could be proud of. A chance to hold their heads high and provide a decent living for their families, some found what they searched for, some did not. But those promises were only for some. Racism still grew unchecked. The lines between rich and poor grew, especially after the beginning of the Iron Age and the spread of the railroads across the continent.

We were promised our individual right to the pursuit of our own versions of happiness. Our rights to free speech and privacy were pre-eminent in those rights. What we did in the privacy of our own homes was all but sacred. Americans would fight to the death for the liberties promised in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution because they thought the government believed in them and practised them as well. But lately something has changed.

Now it spies on its own people both inside its borders and outside, on foreign citizens both in allied lands and hostile, and their leaders as well, almost at whim, in a way that it seems to feel not that we are all citizens of the planet earth together, but that they have the patent of human rights, the lock on the truth, and are the final word on everything that happens both inside and outside its borders. America has become the biggest bully on the playground and if you don’t play by their rules, then they will come after you either economically or if need be, militarily. The torture of prisoners is no longer limited to only dictatorships. Abu Ghraib is not an isolated example, I’m sure.

In the 10 years since 9\11 the US Government has grown less and less concerned with our rights while totally ignoring or circumventing both the Geneva Convention and International Law. They’ve lied their way into an illegal war in Iraq, does ANYONE, still believe that Hussein, albeit a dreadful dictator, had weapons of mass destruction? I didn’t believe it to begin with, so no surprise that none were ever found. In an article from Salon.com there is a timeline based on the findings of the US Senate. The next two paragraphs highlight what I found from the article below, (this is the link  http://www.salon.com/2008/06/18/interrogation/ ).

“According to an investigation conducted by the US Senate Armed Services Committee, there was a series of memos and documents in which the Bush Administration detailed plans for teaching special troops to “withstand torture”, more likely they were taught how to induce torture. They wanted us to believe that CIA enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding did not add up to torture. But the documents show that it is increasingly clear that the administration sought from early on to implement techniques whose basis was torture. Soon after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Pentagon and the CIA began an orchestrated effort to tap expertise from the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School for use in the interrogation of terrorist suspects.

The US Military’s SERE training is designed to inoculate soldiers, sailors and airmen to torture in the event of capture by an enemy that would violate the Geneva Conventions. The Bush administration wanted to use the training as a method of teaching how to deal out torture instead.  As the plan rolled forward, military and law enforcement officials repeatedly sent up red flags that this wasn’t just wrong, but probably illegal. The Bush administration ignored their protests and questioned their loyalty and patriotism, sometimes publicly. The use of torture continued for two years until it was leaked to the news in April 2004. “

Supposedly the torture of prisoners has stopped, but the detaining of foreign nationals for years without due process still continues. This alone is illegal.

I bring this up not to demean the Bush administration, that’s far to easy to do, but to show an example of why it’s necessary to blow the whistle when the government is doing something so blatantly illegal. This is NOT the America I grew up to love. This is not the America from a Norman Rockwell painting. This is not Bruce Jenner waving the flag at the Olympics. This is the America that hated the then Cassius Clay when he adopted the Muslim faith, changed his name to Muhammad Ali and refused to serve in the armed forces. This is the America that ruined hundreds of lives in the 1950s during the McCarthy witch-hunts. This is the America that still allows Ku Klux Klan meetings in “secret”. This is the America that now holds international law under water without air. As a Turkish professor put it in a conversation with the newspaper The Financial Times the other day, “Obama talks like the head of the American Civil Liberties Union but he acts like Dick Cheney”. A very sad comparison since I supported him when he was first elected, but I have to admit it is blood-chillingly accurate. For a current example, consider the dreadful relentless way they are treating one of their own, former NSA agent Edward Snowden, speaking of whistle blowing He made what I’m sure was an extremely painful decision to make public the NSA illegally wiretapping millions of emails and mobile phone calls of Americans within the US and abroad without judicial process. He also made public the inexcusable surveillance of the offices and officials of the EU by the American Government. From what I’ve read I’ll admit he’s far from perfect. But I also have to admire him greatly. This is a man who, like me, and many other Americans, loves his country dearly. He wants to believe in the ideals he was raised with. He makes me think of my youth growing up in the shadow of the 1950s. I want to believe that as Superman once again fills the movie screens around the world, that he is still representing, “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” as the announcer of the 1960s television Superman series said. And the American way is supposed to be something WORTH standing up for. I know I’m going to anger a number of people, least of all some members of my family back home with this. They believe, I’m sure, that America has the right to tap my phone, read my email, check my banking transactions, photograph me when I’m not aware, and if they’re not satisfied then they can always arrest me without a warrant, deport me, hold me in a small unlit cell without water, toilet or sufficient room to stand or move, beat me, threaten to harm my wife, take my belongings, and never ever give me anything remotely resembling due process of law. THIS is what Mr. Snowden is bravely standing up against. THIS is NOT America and if you believe that it is, then I suggest you read up on the true meaning of freedom, beginning with the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States and leave the Ron Paul trash in the dustbin where it belongs.

I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July, Thank you for reading this. God Bless America, it needs it.

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