Friday, September 28, 2007

Police-state tactics more than a think-tank theory

Is this the America we want—a government obsessed with secrecy, denying citizens constitutional rights, justifying torture, kidnapping "suspects" and holding them incommunicado without charges, seizing people out of their sleep and spiriting them away, keeping files on citizens who write critically of the Bush administration?

Such harsh and suffocating denial of liberties led American colonists to revolt against the vile reign of King George and to establish a constitutional government built on the rights of individuals.

Many in the Wood River Valley still are smarting over the tactics of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who raided homes and seized 22 people for various violations—and whose names or whereabouts ICE refuses to release.

Whatever infractions the 22 might have allegedly committed, their specific whereabouts and names should not be undisclosed. Such secrecy reinforces fears about the Bush administration's harsh, secret treatment of persons whom it seizes for alleged crimes in the name of fighting terrorism and ending illegal immigration.

Trust us, ICE's spokesman says. The raids were legal, the 22 who were seized are fine.

If ICE's explanation is suspect, it has the Bush White House to blame.

Bush & Co. for months denied kidnapping and spiriting terrorism suspects off to foreign prisons for harsh interrogation. That was exposed as lie. It also claimed suspects held at Guantanamo were fearsome terrorists receiving humane treatment. That tale, too, fell apart when dozens of the detainees were released from Gitmo and returned to home countries as something less than terrorists and who told of cruelties at Gitmo.

Americans have ample grounds to fear for their freedoms with this government.

Decide for yourself whether Washington's notorious snooping has become a clear and present danger to liberties.

An Ohio fireman was stopped by agents at the Canadian border, then presented with clippings of criticisms he wrote of Bush policies for his hometown newspaper. The agents characterized them as "politically charged" thoughts.

Perhaps aided by other federal agencies, the ability of border agents to match an obscure fireman with published criticism of Bush policies and have copies waiting at a border crossing to confront him smacks of government intent on stifling free speech using fear of an ever-watchful Big Brother.

Blind supporters of this government who naively insist "It can't happen here" are either fools or ignorant of countries that slept while their liberties were gradually stolen by despots claiming to be protectors of the people.

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