Death chamber at Guantanamo?

The Bush administration’s plan to haul six detainees at its prison camp in Guantanamo Bay before a secret U.S. military tribunal, possibly to execute them, should alarm every person who prizes democracy, due process, and human rights. If allowed to go forward, such trials and executions will represent a horrible travesty of justice.

The nearly 700 U.S. prisoners of war at “Camp Delta,” citizens of at least 43 countries, have already been blatantly deprived of their rights under the Geneva Convention and international law. By a thinly disguised and cynical maneuver, the Bush administration has labeled them “enemy combatants,” and claims that the Geneva Convention governing treatment of POWs doesn’t apply.

Neither, they say, does the U.S. Constitution, since the prisoners are held on Cuban soil. Never mind that the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station has been under the complete control of the U.S. military for 100 years, much to Cuba’s regret.

These prisoners, some reportedly as young as 13, have been held under what human rights groups call “barbaric” conditions for over a year and a half, with no contact with lawyers and family, and with no prospects of getting any legal hearing about their status. No hearing, that is, except before a kangaroo court, whose judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys will all be from the same military brass who threw them in their tiny cages in the first place.

And if a defendant is sentenced to death, to whom can they appeal? Why, to one person only: George W. Bush, commander-in-chief, the notorious former governor and leading executioner of Texas! The entire charade will be shrouded in military secrecy.

Bush’s plan is a new, grotesque twist on “victor’s justice,” designed to guarantee swift convictions of possibly innocent people without any public scrutiny. Several European nations have already expressed their misgivings, and have urged the U.S. comply with international law. All who cherish justice should make their voices heard: No secret U.S. military tribunals!

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Bush lies on the economy, too

Just imagine running your household budget like the Bush administration is running the country. First you take all your income to buy rifles. Then you take your five credit cards, borrow cash, and max them out and give all that cash to the first billionaire you see.

Maybe the example is a little crude, but in essence so is the Bush economic program. It’s crude capitalism: tax breaks for the rich, privatization and a soaring military budget. That’s what sent the White House budget into the red by the tune of some $455 billion.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, makes a salient point when he said, “There is no excuse for a $450 billion record deficit this year. Sept. 11 didn’t give us that deficit. The poor people didn’t give us that deficit. The deficit is the result mainly of massive, irresponsible tax cuts for the richest Americans and the lack of any real plan to boost the economy and put people back to work.”

Already over two million jobs have been lost under the Bush regime. Unemployment among youth is at a 55-year high. The racist edge of the crisis hits Black, Latino and other communities of color much harder.

The White House admitted it used false intelligence in its pursuit to dominate Iraq. Why should anyone believe their claims that their economic policies will provide badly needed jobs? And if you do, we have bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

This administration is determined to undo any social and economic gains working and oppressed peoples made from the Roosevelt “New Deal” era and the Johnson “Great Society” period. Mass struggle and protests, along with voter education and mobilization, can help boot out these liars and thieves in 2004. We need to slash the military budget, cancel the tax cuts for the rich and invest in a massive, public works jobs program with affirmative action and union protection and collective bargaining rights.