Friday, December 9, 2011

On secret prisons and shredding the Constitution

It would appear that the CIA has been operating a secret prison in Bucharest since the days of the Shrub administration.

The prison was used to hold and torture people suspected of terrorism. After the discovery of the basement prison, both US and Romanian officials denied its existence.

Is this what we have become? The US is supposed to be a place where the rule of law is supreme. A place where the Constitution and the Bill of Rights sets limits on what the government can and cannot do. A place where all men are equally presumed innocent before a jury.

But, in the name of security, our government has subverted the Constitution and has declared that the needs of the state outweigh the rights of the individual. Secret prisons. Indefinite detention. Military tribunals.

Is nobody willing to stand up in defense of the Constitution?

The only purpose of having secret prisons is to deny suspects the rights afforded to all of us. You don't need an attorney - all you need is a towel over your head and a steady stream of water. So fucking what if the use of torture against prisoners is outlawed - who the hell knows anyone's there?

I'm fairly certain that a good chunk of the populace doesn't care. They're terrorists - who cares what happens to them. Far too many people buy into the national security state. Far too many people are willing to cede their civil liberties for the illusory promise that the government can keep us safe.

The existence of these secret prisons should bother you. Hell, it should infuriate you. Our government has taken what's left of the Bill of Rights and run it through the shredder. When our government authorizes the torture of an inmate or a detainee or a terrorism suspect (whatever words you wish to use), our government is authorizing the use of torture against you and against me.

Our democracy is only as strong as the laws that constrain the absolute power of the state. There is no check on that power when the government operates in secret. There is no check on that power when the existence of a prison is hidden and denied.

If you don't stand up and demand that our government respect the rule of law, then who's going to stand up when they come for you?

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