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Tuesday, June 12, 2007
(9:35 AM) | Stephen:
So What

This isn't breaking news, but in regards to the appeals court decision against the Bush administration's policy of indefinitely holding civilians in military prisons, so what?

I suppose the next step is the US Supreme Court. Even if the whackjob contingent on that court does accidentally rule against the Bush administration - and it's a big assumption that the case will even be heard before Bush is out of office - what will it matter?

If our Executive Branch decides to ignore the court's decision, what exactly will anyone do? Will Congress impeach him? American soldiers have proven fairly willing to follow blatantly illegal orders. The FBI, NSA and CIA have dutifully carried out this President's wishes from illegal wiretaps to harassing innocent people, to conducting massive surveillance operations against anyone that participates in a protest against the war.

In any free society the continued freedom and civil liberties of the population depend entirely upon the government's self-restraint. Our system of checks-and-balances, while brilliant, has always been vulnerable to the possibility that the people with the biggest guns will decide to use those guns to force their will - or the will of the President - upon the rest of the nation no matter the legality.

Now, I'm not trying to suggest that some general or group of generals is going to stage a military coup, even if Thomas Sowell has suggested that this country would benefit from one. The real danger we face is far more mundane. All that needs to happen is for the people in charge to decide that America's laws do not apply to them or to their subordinates, and then for those subordinates to simply follow orders.

I don't think that Bush is going to suspend the 2008 elections. While he's obviously power hungry, I've long believed that the Bush administration's primary motivation has always been profit. However, if he wanted to suspend the elections, or institute a national curfew enforced by a nationalized police force (the National Guard not being available), or pretty much anything else, he could.

Because no matter how outraged we might feel, each of us would be faced with an uncomfortable question, a dilemma for which none of us have prepared: What, exactly, would we do about it?

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