Democrats & Liberals Archives

Restoring American Values

In addition to Nancy Pelosi’s 6 legislative broadsides - which include ethics legislation - during the first 100 legislative hours of the new Congress, there will be lots more legislation calculated to repair the giant rip in our flag produced by the Republican Congress. Among the unAmerican laws Republicans passed, Democrats are sure to modify the act that effectively makes torture legal.

Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut introduced legislation to make the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the Torture Bill - more closely resemble legislation that Americans can be proud of. Here is a statement by Chris Dodd:

I strongly believe that terrorists who seek to destroy America must be punished for any wrongs they commit against this country. But in my view, in order to sustain America’s moral authority and win a lasting victory against our enemies, such punishment must be meted out only in accordance with the rule of law.

Yes, indeed. In America we believe in justice for all. The most important word in that sentence is "all." Everybody accused of a crime must have his day in court. But you say, Why treat terrorists the same way you treat "normal" criminals? To which I answer, How do you know they are terrorists? We can find out only in a court of law.

Bypassing our judicial system is unAmerican!

Here are the major things Dodd's bill will do:

  • Restore Habeas Corpus Protection - Habeas Corpus has been with us for so long it is a fundamental part of our justice system. If Dodd's bill is passed, calling a person an "enemy combatant" will not remove his right to challenge the legality of his arrest and imprisonment

  • Redefine "Unlawful Enemy Combatant" - Only those engaged in armed conflict with the U.S. could be called so. Definitely not citizens of the U.S.

  • Prohibit Evidence Obtained through Torture - No torture allowed. No evidence gotten through torture should be allowed

  • Only Judges May Exclude Hearsay Evidence - With the Republican law, the defendant must prove that evidence is unreliable hearsay. Dodd's bill says that only the judge may throw out evidence he deems unreliable

  • Military Commission Decisions Subject to Review - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will review. The decisions will be reviewed by United States District Court for the District of Columbia and an appeal can be made all the way to the Supreme Court

  • President's Interpretation of Geneva Convention is Subject to Review - The review will be done by Congress and the judiciary
We have heard a lot about values over the years from Republicans. Evidently, justice for all was not one of their values. A new Democratic majority will do its utmost to restore American values - starting with the value of justice for all.

Posted by Paul Siegel at November 21, 2006 6:07 PM
Comments
Comment #196103

This is excellent news!

Posted by: Michael F at November 21, 2006 7:22 PM
Comment #196105


I agree that this is very good news.

Paul: I am somewhat confused about ” Unlawful Enemy Combatant”- It has happened that American citizens have joined terrorist organizations and fought against their country. I am assuming that if caught in such actions, an American citizen would be brought to the U.S. and tried for treason. Would this be correct?

Posted by: jlw at November 21, 2006 7:37 PM
Comment #196108

It’s a start. America is a funny nation; we go through periods of insanity. It sure feels good when we begin to emerge from one.

Posted by: Trent at November 21, 2006 7:52 PM
Comment #196126

“You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.”

Winston Churchill

Posted by: Tim Crow at November 21, 2006 10:59 PM
Comment #196127

Paul,

I’m amazed that the Neo-Cons aren’t jumping all over this, but hell yeah, we need to show the world that we respect human rights and international law, let alone our own commitment to justice.

Let’s also look at Bush’s new ability to suspend the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act. The POTUS now has far too much power to declare martial law.

In the mean while we can see that our invasion of Iraq not only turned out to be a big wet kiss for Iran but at least a little “love peck” for Syria.

Great job Georgie!

Posted by: KansasDem at November 21, 2006 11:10 PM
Comment #196135

I hope this never happens…The terrorists are going to be thrilled with this…They will become citizens of the US, with all the rights and priveleges…

We have a bogged down and corrupt legal system now..wait till this passes…

Posted by: Cliff at November 21, 2006 11:44 PM
Comment #196136

Paul, at long last — terrific news! An America we can actually recognize: A nation that is lawful and just.

Posted by: Adrienne at November 22, 2006 12:00 AM
Comment #196148

We could hope this is at least partly true:

Tom Hayden: U.S. Retreat from Iraq? The Secret Story
http://news.yahoo.com/s/huffpost/20061122/cm_huffpost/034675

One thing that keeps ringing in my ears is Bush saying that Rummy would be around until the end of his administartion. Uh, he lied, nothing new for Bush. But could he be lieing every time he opens his mouth?

We’ll see.

Posted by: KansasDem at November 22, 2006 1:35 AM
Comment #196153


A political coup against the democratically elected government of Iraq. So the Baath party isn’t so bad after all. I bet thay have a hundred want to be Sadams vying for dictator. What the hell, if it gets our troops out of there the American people will accept it.

Posted by: jlw at November 22, 2006 2:25 AM
Comment #196161

I find the idea of restoring American values being attributed to the Democrats highly amusing to say the least. Seeing how the Democrats have made it their party crusade for the last 50 years to undermine every single traditional value that made this country great in the first place and replace it with a secular, morally relativist socialism, I very highly doubt much good will come out of them.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 22, 2006 4:35 AM
Comment #196162

Paul- Thank you for the information from Chris

dodd.

Posted by: DAVID at November 22, 2006 4:48 AM
Comment #196177


The U.S. is going to negotiate directly with the Baath party in an effort to gain more cooperation from the Sunni population.

Can anyone venture a guess as to what will be the first demand from the Baath party for their cooperation?

I think it will probably be a five letter name begining with the letter S.

Posted by: jlw at November 22, 2006 10:16 AM
Comment #196178

The 2nd and 4th concern me a lot. Our enemy are not soldiers of a state army. They are organized citizens that also include people who finance them.

If we make our commander in chief subject to the politics of congress and the court, we limit the ability of our military to react to threats. Congress already has the purse strings. That is enough to stop ongoing “war”. And if this is designed to address the current Iraq situation, it is meaningless because Congress supported the war and the funding by large margins.

It sounds like one of those bills that makes sense when you don’t like the current president, but bites you when the tables are turned.

I also have very little torture sympathy for people who decapitate civilians on international TV. If we want to beat our enemy, we have to be willing to fight the same war they are fighting. I have difficulty falling on either side of this issue, but I just think we need to be careful about contolling the battlefield with partisan politicians.

Posted by: jacktruth at November 22, 2006 10:22 AM
Comment #196179

jlw, it might just as well be Saddam, although for appearances sake, it won’t be him. That would start a storm of questions. But there are many Saddams out there, just slavering in the wings. Another fine mess you’ve gotten me into Stanley!

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 22, 2006 10:26 AM
Comment #196190

We are conducting a survey on amnesty for illegal immigrants in the UK and the USA for the next 6 months at http://www.skillipedia.com . We want to hear opinions from normal people - not political parties or think tanks.

Your opinions or feedback are much appreciated

Posted by: viz at November 22, 2006 11:07 AM
Comment #196191

The 2nd and 4th concern me a lot. Our enemy are not soldiers of a state army. They are organized citizens that also include people who finance them.

No, read it, it says
Only those engaged in armed conflict with the U.S. could be called so.

Currently we have detained HUNDREDS of people who have turned out to be innocent — and mainly on hearsay evidence that they MIGHT be associated with somebody — NOT that they were CAUGHT either shooting, or planning on shooting at our guys.

Posted by: Russ at November 22, 2006 11:10 AM
Comment #196192

Russ, that is my question. Who is considered a combatant. If someone is sending money to fund terrorists, are they considered an enemy combatant? They are not shooting at or planning to shoot at our guys, but they are a huge part of the problem.

Posted by: jacktruth at November 22, 2006 11:19 AM
Comment #196205

Despite what the “liberal” media has said to the contrary, Nancy is turning into quite a strong leader. Congress typically convenes the first week of January after the holiday recess long enough for new members to be sworn in, and then promptly adjourns until the president’s State of the Union Address at the end of the month. But not Nancy’s House. When the House convenes on January 4, the House will be open for bussiness almost the whole month. Some Republicans are not happy, being described as “gnashing their teeth.” God forbid that the Republicans would be interested in doing the people’s work!

One of their first agenda items will be addressing ethics issues. Interestingly, though, they will buck the tradition of intoducing a large “all or nothing” bill. Instead each individual proposal will be on it’s own bill, to be argued on it’s own merit. WOW! One issue per bill, who would of thunk it?!

Posted by: JayJay at November 22, 2006 12:57 PM
Comment #196215
Russ, that is my question. Who is considered a combatant. If someone is sending money to fund terrorists, are they considered an enemy combatant? They are not shooting at or planning to shoot at our guys, but they are a huge part of the problem.

jacktruth,

That is the scary part. The U.S. Government has put out a huge net to catch a few fish. The definition of what a “terrorist organization” is has expanded beyond what most average people think of as terrorists. Did you know that PETA was just classified as a terrorist organization? It is becoming that any organized group that protests can be classified as a terrorist organization. We have expanded the definition so much that it means nothing. Defining terrorism and enemy combatant should be narrow, specific, and well defined.

Posted by: JayJay at November 22, 2006 1:29 PM
Comment #196220

Those people not actively shooting should be subject to proper criminal investigation and consequences. To do that there needs to be appropriate laws defining what is and is not legal.
The purpose of the detainee act is (was) supposed to address those people outside the criminal justice system (foreign countries shooting at our guys, but do not come under the Geneva Convention)
What you point out is exactly the type of slippery slope that we start going down WITHOUT a specific definition of what constitutes “enemy combantent” or “terrorist” org
We have already seen TOO many instances where this illegal power has been pointed at groups whose only “crime” is to disagree with the administration.
THIS IS EXACTLY WHY WE NEED TO STRONGLY DEFEND OUR CIVIL PROTECTIONS
WHEN YOU ARE THE ONE BEING ACCUSED OF “TERRORIST” ACTIVITIES AND TO HAVE THAT MEAN THAT YOU WILL BE INSERTED INTO THE BLACK HOLE OF THE DETAINEE PROGRAM — YOU WILL CARE ABOUT THE RIGHTS OF “THOSE TERRORIST THUGS” —
People in foreign countries that happen to support terrorist orgs, — that is outside our control — and why we need to ensure our diplomatic relations with our allies.

Posted by: russ at November 22, 2006 1:53 PM
Comment #196227

jlw:

I don’t know all the ins and outs of the law. But I believe that an American citizen who fights against America is guilty of treason, as you say.

“Enemy combatant” is merely a name assigned to an individual by the president. If Dodd’s bill passes, whatever the president says will be reviewed. This is what is important about the legislation.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at November 22, 2006 2:18 PM
Comment #196229

Kansas Dem,

I’m not a strong supporter of Tom Hayden, he is not the most honest broker of information.

As to Bush lying, I think it is a problem for him. He has led a sheltered life, supported by his fathers contacts and money. Sometimes children who have never had to struggle on their own, grow up to learn that lying is easiest. They don’t have to face their own shortcomings that way.

He lied about his use of Cocaine, his Military
service, WMD intelligence, the Iraq situation, Katrina actions,and firings of Brown and Rummy. Even devout Republicans have said to me they would support Bush, if he would just come out and be honest. They are tired of being dissapointed by his dishonesty.

Posted by: gergle at November 22, 2006 2:22 PM
Comment #196234

Paul,

I see some strides being made in the right direction with these initiatives. I hope most of them come to fruition, and confidence in the integrity of our government is restored as soon as possible.

Here comes the but. I just hope the dem leadership does not approach this legislation with the same verbage and attitude you are displaying. Pelosi and the dem leadership have pledged bipartisan cooperation. Just how much bipartisanship would you offer if you were called “unAmerican,” and were told everything your party had done for the last several years was “unAmerican?” I know, I know. The repubs called dems plenty of foul, unfair names over the last 14 years. But Pelosi has promised to rise above partisanship and restore professionalism and honesty and integrity to the office. How am I to believe her if the first legislation launched is caveated with, “those unAmerican repubs passed unAmerican legislation, and we aim to correct it inspite of their unAmerican ways.”

Bare in mind I agree with most of the positions, but I am a political animal and understand that if I want cooperation and a spirit of teamwork, spite, retribution and revenge are not the way to get it. I also understand that if I harp on bipartisanship and then stab them in the back, I am lying just as they did and are therefore no better.

I just hope dem leadership chooses their words much more carefully than you if they really do want good public policy above partisanship.

Posted by: Chi Chi at November 22, 2006 2:53 PM
Comment #196240

Chi Chi, The repub congress marched lockstep with the Administration for the last several years. They did not do their job, instead the did a grave disservice to the American people. The Amercian people voted them out. The American people want change. To tell the truth about the un-American activities is just and fair, for the sake of the decent repubs as well as the Country. The dems should make these changes and we should all be proud of them for doing so. We have asked for this by voting the bums out. To do any less would be against the will of the American people.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 22, 2006 5:21 PM
Comment #196244

j2t2,

Did you read my post? I agree with at least most of the initiatives advocated by the dems. I agree the repubs did a miserable job for 6 years (or arguably longer). I agree they should have been voted out.

I will restate. If Pelosi does not want to be lumped in with the “lieing, dishonest” crowd of repubs, she needs to be careful choosing words. Words mean something. When someone who has been shouting about bipartisanship, professionalism, fairness, civility, etc for over 3 weeks were to come out with her first initiative brandishing blame language, you have to question her genuine motives.

I will tell you the same as I told the repubs (who did not listen, obviously). Practice what you preach. Ignore personal, nongermane attacks as if they did not happen, and they usually just go away. Be careful when choosing your words, because they mean something, and can be used against you later. If you want bipartisanship, you have to show a willingness to be bipartisan. Or better yet, nonpartisan.

So, I hope you actually read this post before you respond, and understand that I agree with the initiatives, but want Pelosi to live up to her own billing of civility. Don’t use hate and blame language. It gets you nowhere (witness the recent election where repubs used more blame speech than any other time in recent memory…and lost miserably).

Posted by: Chi Chi at November 22, 2006 5:59 PM
Comment #196251


JayJay: I know a lot of democrats who would love to have a poster of that for their window and a bumper sticker to.

Posted by: jlw at November 22, 2006 7:00 PM
Comment #196267

“We are conducting a survey on amnesty for illegal immigrants in the UK and the USA for the next 6 months….We want to hear opinions from normal people…”

In this slough of despond, this intellectual cul-de-sac? I fear for normality.:-)

Posted by: Tim Crow at November 22, 2006 9:59 PM
Comment #196282

Chi Chi I did read your post. I am not sure I agree with the high road approach you recommend. I agree that it is a more honorable position than telling the repubs to stuff it. I just dont see the repubs responding in kind.I think it is more likely to be war between the two parties. Kindness is weakness to most of the repubs. Personally I hope your right and civility can be the modus operandi of the 110th Congress. Im just a little doubtful that it will be. Here’s hoping your right.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 23, 2006 12:11 AM
Comment #196285

Paul Siegel- Seems as though some folks believe Democrats should be nice to the Republicans, the fact is that nice people usually finish last. The Democrats must be firm an strong with out contempt, (trust but verify). The Democrats can respect Republicans but
demand Respect from the other side if any type of
good Government can prevail in this hostile environment, kindness is sometimes believed to be
considered ignorance if you all get my drift!

Posted by: -DAVID- at November 23, 2006 12:47 AM
Comment #196286

j2t2- We may have had the simular thoughts, I started my post after tim crows post an got sidetracked, before finishing up, after you posted
yours. DAVID

Posted by: -DAVID- at November 23, 2006 1:03 AM
Comment #196293
Seeing how the Democrats … undermine every single traditional value that made this country great in the first place and replace it with a secular, morally relativist socialism…

That’s odd, 1LT B. I don’t remember anything like that happening. Perhaps you can give us a specific example.

Posted by: American Pundit at November 23, 2006 3:14 AM
Comment #196316

1LT B,

One man’s “traditional” value is another man’s oppression. Traditions change as time progresses, hence the name Progressives.

Posted by: JayJay at November 23, 2006 11:44 AM
Comment #196319

BTW, traditional values and American values are not neccessarily synonymous. The only ones who have been attacking American values are Bush and his flying monkeys in Congress. Democrats have protested the assult from the beginning, only to be called un-American. The new Democratic Congress is rightly trying to reverse the damage done to the Constitution and Americans over the last few years.

Posted by: JayJay at November 23, 2006 11:56 AM
Comment #196438

I’m sure if liberal Democrats are as soft on terrorists as they are on criminals, they will not define enemy combatants as those in the United States who fly airliners into government buildings. After all, they aren’t exactly bearing arms, now are they?
Considering what liberals have done to our system of justice in America, it scares me to death that they will be defining anything!!

JD

Posted by: JD at November 25, 2006 3:56 PM
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