Bush, Media, and the Bill of Rights
By 0aJennifer Van Bergen
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 09 July 2003
In May 2002, Broward County, Florida became the largest community 0ato pass a resolution protesting the Patriot Act and affirming its commitment to 0athe Bill of Rights. No local or national newspaper found this sufficiently 0anewsworthy to report except in passing in a column in the Miami Herald by Beth 0aReinhard, who wrote:
"It's a toothless resolution passed by a predominantly Democratic 0apanel that wields just a tad more influence in Republican-led Washington than 0athe Inverrary Democratic Club."
It is fine for Ms. Reinhard to have her opinion, but then news 0amedia should make an effort to report facts completely and accurately.
The Broward Commission, on which sit several staunch 0aconservatives, is the 100th community to have passed such a resolution -- and 0athe largest yet - 1.6 million people, more populous than the state of Hawaii or 0aAlaska, whose legislatures have also passed such resolutions. This is no mere 0asymbolic gesture without teeth. It is a grass roots effort that is spreading 0aacross this nation, a monumental and massive peaceful protest against 0aoutrageously illegal activities of this Administration.
It is sad that the new media does not think it newsworthy that 0athe Bush Administration is violating the United States Constitution, the United 0aNations Charter, and international treaties to which we are signatories, or that 0apeople are rising up everywhere in protest against these practices.
While the Broward Bill of Rights Defense Coalition support the 0aBush Administration's efforts to fight terrorism, as Broward Mayor 0aWasserman-Rubin wrote in a May 13th letter to Bush, "we also believe that 0aefforts to end terrorism should not be waged at the expense of civil rights and 0aliberties of the people of Broward County and the United States."
The United States Government Accounting Office states that out of 0a56 terrorism cases Ashcroft has brought, 41 had nothing to do with 0aterrorism.
Human Rights Watch reported last August that the Attorney General 0ahas subjected non-citizens "to arbitrary detention, violated due process in 0alegal proceedings against them, and run roughshod over the presumption of 0ainnocence."
The Center for Constitutional Rights and other organizations 0aobtained a judgment from the Inter-American Court of Justice against the United 0aStates for detaining purported combatants in Guantanamo in violation of the 0aThird Geneva Convention and other treaties. In March 2002, the Inter-American 0aCommission of Human Rights adopted precautionary measures that asked the United 0aStates to "take the urgent measures necessary to have the legal status of the 0adetainees of Guantanamo Bay determined by a competent tribunal." The United 0aStates ignored the judgment and refused to take any measures, as it ignores 0aprotests of our friends and allies against these illegal detentions. (Geneva 0arequires a status hearing by a competent tribunal for each and every detainee. A 0amere statement by those in power that these men are "unlawful enemy combatants" 0ais insufficient under Geneva.)
The American Civil Liberties Union has reported a monumental 0aincrease in membership this past year. It has been joined in its work by several 0aconservative groups and individuals, including Dick Armey and Bob Barr, the 0aEagle Forum and others.
The National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force reports rising 0anumbers of soldiers seeking legal means of refusing to fight or withdrawing from 0aservice.
A lawsuit has been brought in Belgium against the U.S. commander 0ain the Iraq invasion for war crimes committed by U.S. military forces there. 0aThis is no frivolous action. American officials are on record as taking this 0avery seriously, as well they should.
The American Library Association issued a protest against 0aSection 215 of the PATRIOT Act that allows federal law enforcement to obtain 0ayour reading and computer usage records and prohibits the library from telling 0ayou.
Even Dade County police has protested the measures that use state 0aand local police as tools of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, thus 0ainterfering with local police work and undermining police credibility in the 0acommunity.
The American Bar Association has issued statements and reports 0aagainst military tribunals and attorney/client monitoring.
When the Miami Herald published Reinhard's statement that "well-meaning resolutions and proclamations are as plentiful as lobbyists," it 0aignored the solidarity of over 100 communities across the country who are 0aprotesting the PATRIOT Act and related measures that violate our civil 0aliberties.
As more people of all political persuasions protest the gross 0aviolations of our rights, dilutions of the rule of law, and the blowback from 0abad examples we are setting internationally, hopefully, news media will find the 0aintegrity and courage to report fairly and accurately on these issues.