Nashville, TN: On the day after sixteen activists were arrested on the front steps of the White House, Green Party of Tennessee Candidate for US Senate Chris Lugo called for Tennesseans to condemn the Military Commissions Act (S. 3930) and to take immediate steps to declare the bill unconstitutional by petitioning their elected legislators and voting for candidates who will not vote for torture. “Today marks a grave day in American history,” Lugo declared, “Historians will look back at this time and say that today was the day the President suspended the constitution of the United States of America.”
The bill, which was signed into law tuesday morning, was vigorously protested by civil liberties organizations around the country. In Washington DC there was a vigil and in front of the White House on the Lafayette Park side. The vigil had been planned by the Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture and by the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), PeaceAction Montgomery, The Shalom Center, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and World Can’t Wait DC Chapter.
Green Party Candidate Chris Lugo condemned the bill, which he said condones torture and suspends Habeus rights for Americans. ” Essentially we are condoning torture, not just of our suspected enemies, but also of ourselves. We have stepped into an Orwellian nightmare where the politbureau will allow people to be tortured by our agents,” Lugo said, “There is a human face to these people, to both the torturer and the tortured. We are creating an entire generation of victims and perpetrators. This can’t lead to anything good. But it is worse than that, this represents a profound stain upon our national character. As long as we allow torture, we are not free – every American is complicit in the suffering we are about to impose.”
The new law does not prohibit the government from using “alternative interrogation techniques” that include sleep deprivation, extreme cold, personal degradation, waterboarding (simulated drowning), “temporary” disablement, and psychological disorientation. The new law grants George Bush the sole authority to decide what torture is. Abu Ghraib and the secret renditions were horrible. But to take the next step and write such practices into law is even worse — qualitatively worse.
Our government has officially shredded constitutional promises of basic and fundamental rights to due process — taking a huge step towards replacing the rule of law with the arbitrary rule of men. The new law will give the president the right to hold people indefinitely without charging them, and without review from the courts, nullifying habeas corpus rights. Congress has now passed legislation that denies defendants the right to see evidence used against them, and allows the use of “evidence” gained through torture. It forbids anyone to invoke the Geneva Conventions in any civil case or habeas corpus proceedings undertaken against the U.S. government, and, according to some experts, it may also forbid this in criminal cases.
As a candidate for US Senate, Green Party candidate Chris Lugo pledges that if elected he would work to reverse this legislation, “Our government already holds 14,000 people overseas without charges,” Lugo contends, “Now we have dramatically expanded the scope of who the government can detain to include people anywhere in the world including US citizens. The president just signed a document which gives him the right to declare anyone an ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ at the executive’s discretion. This is a fundamental rewriting of the law which will incur the contempt and hatred of people from around the globe. I would not have voted for this legislation and I promise that I will work with my utmost strength to declare this legislation unconstitutional.”
Chris Lugo is the Green Party of Tennessee Candidate for US Senate
He can be reached at 615-593-0304 or
or at www.chris4senate.com