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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The End of 'Unalienable Rights'

By Robert Parry
January 24, 2006
 
Every American school child is taught that in the United States, people have ?unalienable rights,? heralded by the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Supposedly, these liberties can?t be taken away, but they are now gone.
 
Today, Americans have rights only at George W. Bush?s forbearance. Under new legal theories ? propounded by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and other right-wing jurists ? Bush effectively holds all power over all Americans.
 
He can spy on anyone he wants without a court order; he can throw anyone into jail without due process; he can order torture or other degrading treatment regardless of a new law enacted a month ago; he can launch wars without congressional approval; he can assassinate people whom he deems to be the enemy even if he knows that innocent people, including children, will die, too.
 
Under the new theories, Bush can act both domestically and internationally. His powers know no bounds and no boundaries.
 
Bush has made this radical change in the American political system by combining what his legal advisers call the ?plenary? ? or unlimited ? powers of the Commander in Chief with the concept of a ?unitary executive? in control of all laws and regulations.
 
Yet, maybe because Bush?s assertion of power is so extraordinary, almost no one dares connect the dots. After a 230-year run, the ?unalienable rights? ? as enunciated by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the Founding Fathers ? are history.
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