This is not a commentary. It is an obituary.
Well, “passed away” isn't quite the term for it. It was murdered – cynically cut down in what should have been its prime; assassinated by fear, slayed by ignorance, silenced by contempt, butchered by congressional cowardice and whacked by a venomous president. Rasputin himself died at the hands of fewer conspirators.
The killing field was, of course, Washington, D.C., and the murder weapon was the Military Commissions Act of 2006 – Enabling Act of 1933, anyone? -- which authorized not a war on terror, but a war of terror – the rape of this erstwhile nation of laws, not men, and directed straight at the forehead of any who oppose the new American regime; directed at those who one man, and one man only, deems properly subject to indefinite incarceration, torture, and extermination.
The Act's wording of “unlawful enemy combatants” defies any definition other than: Whomever the president says is an unlawful enemy combatant. We'll just have to pray that over the next two years George doesn't go back on the bottle and start reading disagreeable newspapers and blogs.
Does writing this qualify me as a U.E.C.? Or any of its publishers? Does this open, expressed outrage at the gang of treasonous criminals at the helm of this mess of a reordered government complicate their lives enough or please our foes enough to land me under the prohibition against aiding foreign enemies and comforting them with material support?
Who knows? Could. Might. Maybe. That would be determined not by statute, not by rules of evidence, not by a jury, not by a judge, not even by the court of public opinion. That would, instead, be determined by one man, in secrecy -- an unsettling, intolerable peskiness to dictatorial tranquility to be whisked away under the cover of night.
And that is no hysterical exaggeration.
Not all in Congress sold out their country. In fact, there were 202 “no” votes cast in both Houses against liquidating the U.S. Constitution. Pat Leahy, for one, solemnly noted its extermination by saying "It is a sad day when the rubber-stamp Congress undercuts our freedoms, assaults our Constitution and lets the terrorists achieve something they could never win on the battlefield." And Russ Feingold, speaking on behalf of the 300 million who apparently don't care, rightly observed that the bill "allows the government to seize individuals on American soil and detain them indefinitely with no opportunity to challenge their detention in court." Oh well.
The political vilification employed by Bush's enablers and pulled out of their fascistic asses was as over the top as over the top gets. House Sprecher Dennis Hastert -- chief enabler of that marvelously unique strain of totalitarianism: pedophiliac fascism -- disgracefully sputtered that "The Democratic plan would gingerly pamper the terrorists who plan to destroy innocent Americans' lives," and that Democrats had supported "new rights for terrorists" and "put their liberal agenda ahead of the security of America."
House co-conspirator John Böhner helpfully added that "Capitol Hill Democrats have yet to offer any solutions or formulate any serious national security policy on how to keep America safe in a post-9/11 world." The targets of such dishonorable ridicule should have countered that Herr Böhner's deportation would be a start.
In the midst of all this constitutional demolition, der Präsident boiled down all the fussy complexities in his own homey way by asking, “With the distance of history,” the question will be: “Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously?”
Ironic, wasn't it?