Something akin to this occurred March 28th, 193 AD when the Praetorian guards, literally, sold the Roman empire to the wealthy senator Didius Julianus for the bargain price of 6250 drachmas. Our modern day "Didius" has fared better than Julianus, who didn't live out the year. Unless he is brought to trial for capital and war crimes, our own "Crawford Caligula", looks forward to a peaceful retirement where he can exorcise his aggressive demons with a chainsaw and mesquite trees.
The 1297 copy of the Magna Carta is more than an English royal document; it is considerably more than a mere symbol of freedom. It brought a King "to book" for his abuses and established the principle of habeas corpus. Habeas Corpus, as you may recall, was recently abrogated upon a decree by George W. Bush, likewise owned by the Carlyle Group. He was, until now, their trophy. The sale price for Magna Carta was $21.3 million including commission at Sotheby's in New York. We haven't yet determined what price Bush commanded.
Before penning the Declaration of Independence--the first of the American Charters of Freedom--in 1776, the Founding Fathers searched for a historical precedent for asserting their rightful liberties from King George III and the English Parliament. They found it in a gathering that took place 561 years earlier on the plains of Runnymede, not far from where Windsor Castle stands today. There, on June 15, 1215, an assembly of barons confronted a despotic and cash-strapped King John and demanded that traditional rights be recognized, written down, confirmed with the royal seal, and sent to each of the counties to be read to all freemen. The result was Magna Carta--a momentous achievement for the English barons and, nearly six centuries later, an inspiration for angry American colonists.I find it tragically ironic that the sale of this venerable document should have gone to the Carlyle Group, a cabal of right wing militarists, neo-fascists, and elitists who have little regard for the principles it established at Runnymede. George W. Bush himself typifies a medieval approach to government. His regime is a subversive throwback to an pre-Magna Carta era characterized by arbitrary, tyrannical rule. In King John's day, the rights of common people cannot be said to have been abused; they didn't even exist. Like King John who was forced to sign the great charter, Bush assumes the power to rule by caprice, by whim, by prejudice. He is, by any definition, a tyrant.
Sotheby's chairman David Redden called the Magna Carta "the birth certificate of freedom". Perhaps! But it is in any case a dramatic reminder of what has been lost to Bush's assault on the rule of law. English nobles literally forced King John I to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215. It is, therefore, a document "of unprecedented value to Western civilization". In it there is a line in Latin which reads: "No one is above the law."
If the Magna Carta is not the birth certificate of Democracy, it is the death certificate of despotism. It spells out for the first time the fundamental principle that the law is not simply the whim of the king. The law is an independent power unto itself. And the King could be brought to book for violating it!"Magna Carta is among the most influential developments in the history of constitutional law and may be found throughout the extensive body of common law, English law, and various US documents including, most notably, the US Constitution. Let's put this in the vernacular and in perspective. I have almost 1000 years of settled law on my side. Bush has jack shit! It is impossible to over-emphasize the significance of Magna Carta whose principles appear throughout the histories of democracies since the English Petition of Right, the Mayflower Compact, The Virginia Declaration of Rights, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, The Nuremberg Principles, and every US Supreme Court decision that has upheld the right of persons to be free of arbitrary rule, to be secure in their homes, to be free of unreasonable arrest in the absence of probable cause. By contrast, totalitarian states have their philosophical roots in Hegelianism, a straight road to both Nazism and Stalinism. You will find GOP die hards on this dark side of the road. Because the Bush administration is aligned with medievalist and state absolutist ideologues, CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden cannot be sufficiently condemned or excoriated for having denied that "probable cause" was the demonstrable standard that must be met before the state may proceed, in any way, against an individual. Clearly, Hayden had not bothered to read the Fourth Amendment. He was not merely wrong. He was pig-headed, testy, arrogant, imperious. He's also an idiot.
—Simon Schama, History of Britain
Two words --probable cause --stand between you and a tyrant! I simply cannot and will not recognize the legitimacy of any Bush decree, lie, or obfuscation to the contrary. Bush is an outlaw who has our every law and tradition aligned against him.
The Military Commissions Act of 2006, for example, is, of course, unconstitutional. But worse --it is seditious and revolutionary, abrogating habeas corpus, the presumption of innocence and the rule of law itself.
With a bill as pernicious as this one, it is difficult to settle on a single worst provision. The restrictions on the right of habeas corpus probably qualify, but the bill's over broad definition of "unlawful enemy combatant" runs a close second. ...The bill's different treatment of citizens and aliens reflects political calculations, not legal ones. As the UK House of Lords found in 2004 in ruling against indefinite detention, such a distinction cannot be justified under international law.Bush has simply declared himself free to ignore those laws he doesn't like, free to enforce only those laws he does like. By his own admission, he may simply ignore the McCain amendment outlawing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees. He should have been impeached at that very moment. Sadly, Congress was already complicit or, at the very least, compromised. In the meantime, despite the unconstitutional machinations of this criminal regime, the US is still bound to Geneva. Violations thereof which result in death are capital crimes. Bush is in a heap o' trouble.
--The Military Commissions Act of 2006: A Short Primer, Joanne Mariner, Findlaw
Bush will ignore such laws because he wishes to continue to preside over "procedures" which satisfy his various perversities. He authorizes procedures that are cruel, inhuman, and degrading. Bush has a personal problem not unlike that of Larry Craig and numerous others in this sorry party. Bush is a pervert; he cannot escape his history --the glee with which he described a mass summary execution, the delight he found in ramming firecrackers up toads so that he could watch them explode in mid-air. Bush is a latter-day Richard Topcliffe, a monster who presumes to occupy the our oval office. His delight in aggressive war, mass destruction and sadistic torture practices has nothing to do with national security. We are less safe! The world is a more dangerous place for as long as Bush has power.
Bush, thus, provides potential "terrorists" a cause celebre. Certainly, terrorism is always worse under GOP regimes. Not content to have thumbed his nose at our laws, traditions, and country, Bush is hell-bent on making it the object of hate and derision. Bush is a lawless menace to civilization, a cretin, a throwback, a liar. It must be shouted from the rooftops. Bush's "administration" is nothing less than rule by decree, a tyranny, inconsistent with the rule of law itself. It is subversive and treasonous. Every American --especially those in government --should simply ignore him, his orders, his illegal decrees. Render this squatter irrelevant. There is, by contrast, another road that runs straight from Magna Carta to our own Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, the principle of Habeas Corpus.
No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.Bush claims that he may simply dismiss every US law and the mountainous body of US case law inspired by that principle. He need only declare anyone with whom he disagrees an "enemy combatant". US actions following this heinous absurdity fly in the face of every principle mentioned and linked to in this article. At least 1,000 years of law, heritage, English Common Law and US Case Law affirming the very rule of law say that Bush is dead wrong! The history of the Magna Carta is the history of a would-be tyrant who had presumed to rule arbitrarily and absolutely. English barons were having none of it. The barons reserved for themselves sweeping powers of appointment, clearly, a check on what might have been the absolute power of the King.
We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.It is tempting to find in that clause the birth of the separation of powers. By appointing justices, the barons took the powers of a judiciary away from King John. Bush has all but reversed this historical trend. He has assumed for himself a judicial power to decree who is and who is not a "terrorist".
In the meantime, Democrats debate how many angels may dance on the head of a pin, failing to challenge the biggest red herring in US history: terrorism. Democrats bought into the paradigm and lost by doing so. Hilary, for example, supported both the phony war on terrorism and the failed war against a phantom menace in Iraq. She has no moral authority, no moral high ground from which to launch the counter-attack against Bush. Democrats, America's last hope, have betrayed the nation and shot themselves in the foot. To whom will the people turn when power has abandoned them?
By doing nothing, Democrats conferred legitimacy upon an illegitimate usurper. Sen. Joseph Biden, though he now says has no confidence in "this President", attacked only Bush's lack of a plan --not the fraudulent nature of the war itself. As far as I know, no Democrat has dared call Bush's regime "illegitimate" though it most certainly is. Voters are left no other choice but to support a Democratic nomination. Slim hopes beat none at all, I suppose. Is it too much to ask that our "leaders" at least give lip service to the legitimate concerns of a disaffected people?
Political rhetoric is just more of the same when, in fact, nothing is the same. How could Democrats have missed the sea change that has taken place, the fundamental challenges to Constitutional government? Where is the outrage? Where is courage? What are the implications? Simply, the Bush junta has subverted the US Constitution and some 1,000 years of progress. Are we to expect a nation of some 300 millions to just walk willingly into a tyrannical dark age?
J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans that he suspected of disloyalty.Additional resources:
Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, 12 days after the Korean War began. It envisioned putting suspect Americans in military prisons.
Hoover wanted President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary to “protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.” The F.B.I would “apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous” to national security, Hoover’s proposal said. The arrests would be carried out under “a master warrant attached to a list of names” provided by the bureau.
The names were part of an index that Hoover had been compiling for years. “The index now contains approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven per cent are citizens of the United States,” he wrote.
“In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus,” it said.
Habeas corpus, the right to seek relief from illegal detention, has been a fundamental principle of law for seven centuries. The Bush administration’s decision to hold suspects for years at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has made habeas corpus a contentious issue for Congress and the Supreme Court today.
- Text: Hoover’s Letter to Eisenhower’s Special Consultant (December 22, 2007)
- Documents: The Intelligence Community, 1950–1955 (state.gov) (pdf)
- Purpose and Effect of the Preamble to the Consitution
- Senator Feinstein Warns Against the Bush Administration's Efforts to Vastly Expand Executive Power
- The Death of Habeas Corpus
- UN panel issued a stinging report of US torture policies
- Bush Challenges Hundreds of Laws
- Now We Know How A Dictator Can Game The Presidency
- Evesdropping on America
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