It used to be more or less presumed that what separated us from the pre-Revolution Old World, and subsequently from totalitarian states, was our relatively liberal legal system. It was built on basic rights and respect for the individual, which is why concepts like “habeas corpus” and “innocent until proven guilty” were things that most school children could recite and at least vaguely explain.

What the War on Drugs ushered in, and what the War on Terror has subsequently magnified, is proof that the founders of this nation were right to admonish us to be vigilant about the freedoms that are supposed to be built into our constitution.

If I may cut to the chase, it doesn’t matter if the accused is a foreign national or not. It doesn’t matter if some in our nation want to pretend that we are embroiled in some officially undeclared, existential war with a shadowy, magical, stateless foe. We are what we do, and our constitution tells us what we are supposed to do.

We are supposed to respect the basic human rights of all people we suspect of breaking the law, no matter what we believe they have done and no matter their national origin, and we are to do in accord with the dictates of our constitution. If we discard that basic principle for a false sense of security, then we don’t deserve the nation that many before us have fought, bled, and sacrificed for.

The greatest accomplishment of the Bush administration was to pull the veil off vast swaths of the electorate. After the attacks of 9/11 spectacularly vaporized and obliterated a few thousand of our citizens (along with hundreds of foreign nationals), we were exposed as a nation of childish, cowardly bullies. We gave the Bushies free reign to do whatever they wanted to us and to people around the globe. For that we were given the pea-brained, Orwellian War on Terror with its free speech zones, color-coded threat alerts, and indefinite detentions without charge.

It gets me steamed to see that the ushering in of Hope and Change hasn’t changed the color of the stripe running down our corporate media’s collective back. They are still peddling the Bushies’ company line of All Fear, All The Time. I do this grudgingly, but I send you to an Associated Press story:

Issue of terrorists’ rights to test Obama’s pledge

First, the headline assumes that all the U.S. ‘detainees’ are guilty. Then the story follows suit by conveniently omitting that of the many hundreds detained there, the vast majority have been released without ever being charged. This is an important fact when one considers the method by which most of the ‘detainees’ were taken into custody in the first place.

If our mass media are going to keep parroting falsehoods about the actions of our highest-level government officials, and we are going to keep gobbling up those falsehoods, just what kind of nation do we expect we’re going to have before long?

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