Pete Kendall's Socio Times: A Socionomic Commentary

October 25, 2006
Orange County Register
Terror War Claims Basic Rights
The new Military Commissions Act takes a radical departure
We opposed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which President Bush signed with such fanfare last week, when it was before Congress. Now that it has become law, it will undoubtedly be subject to legal challenge. But the fact that it could become law in a nation whose basic governing document theoretically is the U.S. Constitution suggests that these are perilous times for constitutional liberties.

In trumpeting the signing, President Bush is taking a calculated political risk. Conventional wisdom holds that while the Iraq war is increasingly unpopular and makes Americans think badly of the president and the Republican Party, the larger "war on terror" is another matter. When it comes to confronting al-Qaida and other murderous jihadists, the polls show continuing support for the administration and a continuing preference for Republican over Democrat leadership.

Thus in signing the bill, which he described as "one of the most important pieces of legislation in the war on terror," the president sought to remind potentially disillusioned Americans that the larger war is ongoing and that the Republicans are willing and eager to prosecute it aggressively. We'll see Nov. 7 whether the ploy worked or whether invocation of the "war in terror" has worn thin with the electorate.

Whatever the political impact, the impact of this legislation on the traditions and institutions of the United States is serious and deleterious. A good deal of attention has been paid to whether this law openly authorizes torture. Given that it leaves the definition of torture to an administration that has had a latitudinarian attitude toward practices the United States prosecuted as war crimes (when done by its enemies) as recently as World War II, that is a legitimate concern.

Perhaps the most important and radical departures from constitutionalism, however, are the limitations on the right of habeas corpus – the ancient writ that allows a person being held captive by a government to be informed what the charges are and to have a judicial resolution of them – and the limitation of judicial review.

Supporters of the act note that the denial of habeas corpus rights applies only to noncitizens. But when the U.S. Constitution discusses habeas corpus it makes no such distinction, providing only that "[t]he privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

The commission act's suspension of habeas corpus, then, is probably unconstitutional on its face. It may also be unconstitutional in that the present emergency does not meet the constitutional test of rebellion or invasion (when civilian courts might not be capable of operating). For better or worse, our civilian courts are operating at full throttle and could no doubt handle a few dozen trials of alleged terrorists, so the need for a bill establishing military commissions at all – let alone suspending habeas corpus – is far from evident. Ordinary military courts martial might also have handled the job.

Apparently, however, both civilian courts and traditional courts martial are too wedded to traditional procedures and protections for this administration. The new act permits the exclusion of a defendant from his own trial (if classified evidence is being presented) and the admission of hearsay and coerced evidence.

Critics who see in this act the beginning of the end for American liberties may be overstating the case. But not by much.

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Well Runs Dry for a Basic Bull Market Commodity
Category: POLITICS
By: Pete Kendall, October 25, 2006
 “Patriot Act Popular, Giving Bush an Edge.” This is probably one of the most profound evidences of the potency of the [next bear market]. Just weeks ago, the Kerry campaign was planning to use the acts intrusion on civil rights as a campaign issue: “But instead of the ideal issue to use against President Bush,” the Democrats have discovered that the public is squarely behind the measure. “In a turnabout, the act suddenly has emerged as a cornerstone of Bush’s re-election campaign.”
The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast, May 2004

bush signing
We covered this very bearish trend back in April when President Bush quietly rejected a measures that would have required him to “adhere to requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the Patriot Act's expanded police powers.” The curtailment of civil liberties by the U.S. President is a sure fire sign that the fear, xenophobia and “desire for control over others” of a big bear market are well developed. The editorialist at left correctly adds that the Military Commissions Act passage “in a nation whose basic governing document theoretically is the U.S. Constitution suggests that these are perilous times.” The Center for Constitutional Rights has produced an excellent synopsis of the infringements and potential for challenges to the new law. One U.S. senator description of the measure as “patently unconstitutional on its face,” make the act’s eventual rejection seem likely. But the fact that the same senator then voted for the measure says that such a development may not matter. The measure’s passage reveals a shift in control, from the openness and reason of a bull market to the negative emotions of a bear. Such times are perilous indeed. 

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"The Military Commission Act reflects an increase in fear and xenophobia, hallmarks of a bear market frame of mind, notwithstanding a rising Dow." I agree this point of view.
Posted by: z sunvily
October 25, 2006 03:06 PM

When Abraham Lincoln jailed a congressman from Cincinnati in 1862, we were well past the bear market lows of 1845 and 1857. When Franklin Roosevelt sent the Japanese-American (American citizens) to concentration camps in 1942, we were well past the bear market lows of 1932 and 1938. Thus the attack on Civil Liberties which you see argues that 2003 was a significant low which will not be seen again for ages.
Posted by: Harry H. Lacey
October 25, 2006 03:06 PM

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