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Republicans are trying to ramrod through Congress a bill giving the President most of his wish list for military tribunals for suspected terrorists. In the Hamdi decision last June, the Supreme Court nixed these wacko procedures in part because Congress hadn't authorized them. The strategy, natch, is to smear any Dem who opposes them as helping the terrorists. For once, it would be refreshing to see Dems stand up to this bullying and execute a clear strategy of moral differentiation based on respect for law, justice, and the military. Some Repubs would almost certainly get on that bandwagon. Some ideas on how to do it.

A Letter to Congressional Democrats:

So far, I've heard nothing but garbled, kowtowing mush coming out of the mouths of congressional Democrats about Bush's demand for "military tribunals."  Meanwhile, the Republicans are trying to ramrod through a bill giving him all the powers the Supreme Court said Congress hadn't given him.

This whole issue could work so well for Democrats, I believe, if only you would get clear on a few simple talking points, such as:

                - RESPECT FOR THE LAW
                - BUSH BROKE THE LAW

America wants to see you putting some brakes on this out of control administration, demonstrating some care and wisdom.  Please demand hearings into the best course of action.  Our laws and legal system have served us well through 200 years of history. It is not by any means self-evident -- on the contrary far from it -- that the Uniform Code of Military Justice is inadequate or that the president should be given extraordinary new powers.

If you could, just once, not take the bait when they accuse you of wanting to coddle terrorists or being soft on terrorists or whatever smear du jour they have on offer.  If you could stick to dignity and stress respect for law and respect for the military for God's sake!  The military does not want these tribunals.  This is not about the terrorists.  It's about who we are as Americans and the American way.

The president BROKE THE LAW. The Repubs like to treat this as a minor thing -- oh, he forgot to get a permission slip, so no big deal; we'll just write him out one.  Such contempt for the Supreme Court! This is not a minor thing to be swept under the rug.  He BROKE THE LAW by trying to assert power he does not have in this democracy.  He BROKE THE LAW.  That's what the Supreme Court said. It bears a lot of repeating.  His base will foam at the mouth.  But your base and many independents and Reagan Democrats will rejoice to hear truth spoken to power.

The detainees aren't going anywhere.  THERE IS NO EMERGENCY, no smoking gun, that requires legislation instantly.  For the sake of our nation, do your duty and insist on a full debate. We need you to find out how is our current code of military justice inadequate?  How does it need to be changed for this situation? Get the JAGs in to testify, PLEASE.  Get Hamdi's lawyer.  Get the legal scholars.  Get West Pointers. Air out the whole Geneva Convention aspect.  Find out whether it's true as the administration claims that everybody who is being held is a dangerous terrorist.  Find out if we may be holding innocent people and what should be done about that if we are.  Find out what authority is actually needed to protect the nation.  This is the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US AND THEM.  We are thoughtful, careful to get things right. They are always shooting first, asking questions never with the result that the country is further and further off course. It's time to ask some questions.

If you can do so honestly, I hope you will mention that you are giving this issue prayerful consideration.   After all, Christ himself in Hebrews 13:3, instructed us to "Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them."  We Democrats who are Christians have a faith-based duty to get this right and there is every reason to say so if we want to win votes from Christians.

Obviously, Democrats haven't the power to make hearings happen without Republican support. Nevetheless, the need for a hearing should be repeatedly stressed, the need to get the facts and behave lawfully and with respect for law and the military. Since Repubs probably won't do a hearing, line up a think tank to hold an all day symposium elsewhere and have a hearing without the Repubs if they choose not to come, although I'll bet some will be there. The media will be all over it if Democratic members attend because they want to responsibly perform their duties and they want the people to "get the facts." (The Republicans will scream this is "just a stunt," but they'll be on defense which is where we want them.)

The Repubs of course want this voted on yesterday. Dems should insist that if they are ever to vote on it, the president must publicly promise that he will not attach any signing statement. He must assure the world, before Democrats vote, that he will obey his oath of office and faithfully execute whatever law Congress passes.

If the Republicans will not permit proper oversight (hearings, etc.) and if the president will not abjure a signing statement, then it's time to draw a line in the sand and bring as much light to bear as possible on the difference between us and them by ABSTAINING FROM VOTING. Let them pass whatever they want, but let no more blood of injustice and illegality be on the hands of our party.

We are so sick, out here in the real world, of Democrats in congress who refuse to fight these thugs.  If we are to have a hope of winning back seats in places like the 1st District of Kentucky where I live, we need you to show that DEMOCRATS ARE NOW THE REAL CONSERVATIVES. Democrats are guided by law, tradition, faith, and morality and behave with calm dignity.  So stiffen your spines, please, and get on with it!

Sincerely yours,
Sarah Magee

Originally posted to Sassy 1 on Tue Sep 12, 2006 at 09:49 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They have to start somewhere (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melvin, betterdeadthanred

    This would be a fine place to start.  We need to hang his illegal activities around his neck like a week dead albatross.

  •  don't get me started... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, Demi Moaned

    The reason this is in Congress now is that Rove et. al. want a chance to point at Dems and say "see! they luv terrorists 'cause the care about human rights!!"

    Senate Dems think the smart move is stay mum in pubic and back McCain, Graham, and Warner behind the scenes.

    The problem with that is that, IMO, Republican opposition to kangaroo courts and retroactive amnesty for war crimes is all show. They're going to talk tough when the camera is on (McCain especially) to make a show of their independence from Bush but will buckle like so many belts when the RNC threatens their '08 money.

    If it plays out that way, we'll be stuck with no defensible position at the last minute and our only option will be to scream and cry after letting the Repubs own the entire debate.

    The optimist in me hopes that Reid knows that the Rs are so internally divided that nothing is going to pass this session and he's just running out the clock. The pessimist in me thinks we're gonna get played and that my country will join the short list of rogue regimes that openly accept and condone torture and show trials with secret evidence.

    IMO, this is a case were the blogospere could be of good, practical use for Congressional Dems by their front-line policical cover. That is, by rallying the same hue and cry over this-- a matter of genuine substance-- that we did over that awful 9/11 propaganda movie.

    Sorry for the long comment, but this has been vurning my ass for a week now...

    How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print. -- Karl Kraus

    by kingubu on Tue Sep 12, 2006 at 10:23:16 PM PDT

  •  Hear, hear! (0+ / 0-)

    Couldn't agree more, Sassy 1.

    Thanks for the diary.

  •  GET OFF YOUR ASS DEMS! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    BLOCK THIS LEGISLATION!  What in the hell are you thinking by rubberstamping this over-reaching war criminal?

    If you DON'T act, then DON'T expect ANYONE to believe you are actually going to PROVIDE OVERSIGHT TO THIS CRIMINAL ADMINISTRATION?

    Is this CLEAR ENOUGH for you?

    A country is not only what it does--it is also what it puts up with, what it tolerates. --Kurt Tucholsky

    by Eyes Wide Open on Tue Sep 12, 2006 at 11:12:41 PM PDT

  •  This is very important (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I heard Reid on NPR say that of course the dems would support military tribunals for the Guantanamo detainees, so I wouldn't hold my breath that they'll do the right thing. There is an election coming up, after all, and they wouldn't want to be seen as weak on terror, or wusses, or having smaller penises than the republicans. Or something like that. Anyway, given our representatives in Congress, the US Constitution is about as relevant as this document.

  •  Say it now because it is the American Way!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Even suspected terrorists are innocent until proven guilty through the rule of law.

  •  Dems Don't have the Courage to Lead (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The democrats think they are being so clever by refusing to challenge the President when he violates international law and american legal and moral principles.  What they really show is just how craven they are, hoping Graham, Wagner and McCain will take the lead and they can tag along behind.  How can they expect to be returned to power if they lack the moral courage to stand up and do the right thing.  This only reinforces their image as being feckless politicians, who think they can win by doing nothing.
    America needs real leaders now!

  •  You are so so right (0+ / 0-)

    Sassy, Thank you very much for this diary. Justice, accountability, and constitutional authority are the key to whole so-called war on terror . Bush is literally getting away with murder and in the process is destroying our Constitution. And thank you ,too, for appealling to Christian principles in this debate.As a matter of fact, Christian theology has  profound guidance on this subject. Begining with Saint Thomas' "Just War Theory" which completely prohibits support for a so called preemptive war. I've written on this subject and would be happy to share it with you. ( Demos would just support investigations of Bush's Iraq War policy, I think it would be a winning election issue.

    Thanks Again

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