End the coup — vote Nov. 2

When Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist went into the hospital for thyroid cancer, Oct. 22, millions were reminded of a key presidential responsibility: appointments to the nation’s highest court. These lifetime appointments have repercussions far beyond the four-year presidential term.

The 5-4 Supreme Court decision on Dec. 12, 2000, to stop Florida’s vote recount is a case in point. That infamous ruling installed George W. Bush in the White House for four years. In our Dec. 16, 2000, front-page editorial, this newspaper called it a “very American coup,” a violation of voting rights and democracy. We wrote: “The American people will look back at the [2000] election and post-election days as a new moment in the struggle for democracy. It will become clearer which forces stand for democracy and its expansion and which forces stand for subversion.” We predicted that “there will be new and bigger struggles, with a new kind of multiracial labor and people’s coalition emerging. With this a historic negative can be turned into a historic positive.”

This year, that broad multiracial, multiethnic, multi-issued labor and people’s coalition has emerged, savvy and united in a common purpose: to put an end to George W. Bush’s administration, so dangerous to democracy, humanity and all living things. A historic electoral coalition — highly motivated on basic issues of war and peace, jobs and health care, defense of the Constitution, civil rights and liberties — has materialized out of the fires of battle against the pro-corporate, extremist Bush policies.

The profound calamity of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks erased for a short time the memory of the Bush-Cheney election theft of 2000. But their true colors came shining through again with their illegal, unfounded war on Iraq. Their lies, cheating and “organized crime” behavior landed the U.S. in a quagmire in Iraq, trampled our hard-won democratic rights, and wrecked our economy.

Now is our chance to end this illegal regime. On Nov. 2, tell Bush-Cheney: “You’re fired!”

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An outlaw administration

After repeating for over a year that everyone captured in Iraq would be treated as a prisoner of war under the Geneva Conventions, Bush administration offices have now added an asterisk to that statement. They have issued a new legal opinion that non-Iraqi prisoners are exempt from the Conventions. The opinion was sought by the CIA to establish the legality of its secret transfers of non-Iraqi prisoners — beginning in April 2003 — for interrogation outside Iraq.

This is not the first time we’ve heard such a declaration from the Bush administration. In 2001, they said the same thing about suspected members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. This allowed them to be sent to the prison at Guantanamo, where some 550 prisoners from 40 countries remain today, anonymous and hidden from sight. Four British citizens recently released filed a lawsuit Oct. 27 against the United States seeking $10 million each in damages for abuse. There have been at least eight substantiated cases of abuse at the U.S. naval base, according to a U.S. congressional report.

If the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib are what the administration allows under the Geneva Conventions, what horrors await the new class of “ghost prisoners” now being moved out of Iraq?

The world was aghast at the images of torture in Abu Ghraib and there was international outcry against the detentions in Guantanamo. Human rights groups are outraged at this latest move, yet another case of the Bush administration placing itself outside international law. This is one of the shameful themes of the administration — from its refusal to recognize the International Criminal Court to the rejection of the UN vote to let weapons inspectors do their job in Iraq.

On the eve of the presidential elections, this is a disturbing glimpse into what a second term might bring. But it doesn’t have to be that way. On Nov. 2 the American people can issue its own legal opinion, and turn the Bush-Cheney gang out.