Anti-Constitution: Cowardly Congress passes disgraceful bill

Published September 29, 2006 12:00 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Last week was Constitution Week, remembering the day 219 years ago that the Constitution of the United States was signed by the members of a visionary Constitutional Convention.

This week stands to be remembered as Anti-Constitution Week, in honor of the disgraceful Military Commissions Act bill passed by a cowardly Congress.

All five members of the Utah delegation supported this desecration of American ideals, ideals that they and President Bush see as unaffordable luxuries in this time of terror. But the point of this bill for the members of the House and Senate who voted for it is not to prevent some Americans from losing their lives in terrorist attacks but to prevent some politicians from losing their jobs in democratic elections.

Railroading this abomination through Congress as its members scurry off for their re-election campaigns was not done to provide for the defense of the nation. The suspected terrorists who will be tried under its provisions are either socked away in the Black Hole of Guantanamo or haven't been captured yet.

Waiting until next year, and the next Congress, would give our real military and legal experts another chance to make their case. They could again argue that giving the president practically unlimited power to hold anyone he wants, for as long as he wants, under any conditions he wants, would be a crippling weakness in a global war for hearts and minds, not a strength.

But it would be an asset to Republicans seeking a weapon against any Democrats who might be queasy about abandoning our basic legal principles. The threat to swift-boat with vicious attack ads any candidate who didn't fall in line was all but explicit.

One Democrat who bought himself sanctuary from such an assault was Utah's Jim Matheson, who issued a pathetic press release pointing out that the bill he voted for was less horrible than the status quo ordered by the president. He was one of only 34 House Democrats to be so intimidated.

His Republican colleagues from Utah, Reps. Chris Cannon and Rob Bishop and Sens. Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch, of course fell in line with the president.

If history is written by free men and women, this will be an act long remembered as a disgrace for the United States of America.

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