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What had been merely a rumor has now become fact.
The Bush administration has asked for legislation enabling it to postpone the November election as a result of a terror attack. While worded very carefully to suggest that an attack must take place for such a move, I do not see either of the [above] stories unequivocally state that, if granted, these powers might not also permit elections to be "postponed" on merely a well-publicized threat. Don't believe the press stories. Read the legislation when it is introduced to see what it says there. If that discretion is included then we are at the edge of an abyss more dangerous than anything we have ever faced.
These powers, if enacted, will go to the Department of Homeland Security. DHS would also be the entity to decide when, or if, postponed elections would be held.
Allowing suspension of the elections on just the threat of a terror attack would create a hole in the legislation big enough to drive an oil tanker, or an open dictatorship, through. Since the legislation has not been seen yet we do not know what it will say. Once introduced, the bill would then go into Senate and House Committees (Republican controlled) where the language could easily be modified to give discretionary power to the Administration. At that moment the Constitution would overtly cease to have any operational meaning at all. The separation of powers would vanish.
Judging from the news stories tonight we will probably see the legislation introduced fairly quickly. From the instant it appears, this legislation must be tracked daily, even hourly, at http://thomas.loc.gov .
Does any one of us doubt that if threatened or desperate, the administration would use those powers without hesitation?
I ask those who read this to stop for a moment and consider what it would mean for all of us on this side of the fence if the Bush administration both acquired and used the power to suspend the election -- with or without an attack. What restraints would be left to prevent some of our worst-case scenarios from coming true? Why even maintain the illusion of democracy? All vestiges of accountability will have been removed.
We should each evaluate our own situations accordingly. Hopefully most of us will see that we have no choice but to bond together more than ever before. To quote Ben Franklin: "We must all hang together or else we shall surely all hang separately."
This is the moment at which it all becomes very, very real. Although there is strong Democratic Party opposition appearing with derisive statements from Rep. Jane Harman and Sen. Diane Feinstein, my initial assessment, after watching CNN, FOX and MS-NBC, is that the press is already "selling" us this legislation. Fortunately, early stories also report that the act would also require a constitutional amendment.
However, with this Supreme Court we can be assured of nothing. Yet, knowing this, we can be sure that there will be many chances to fight and beat this travesty. There will be many places at which our skills and resources can function to create and implement a coordinated response.
All the efforts put into 9/11 and into the anti-war movement will need to pale by comparison with the effort that must be put forth to prevent this legislation from passing. Every lesson learned about organizing; mobilizing; reporting; strategy; education; and influencing congress (if that's possible), needs to be remembered and applied now. There will be many tests to come....
I don't usually quote Dianne Feinstein but she was right when she said that America holds elections in the middle of wars, earthquakes and disasters. No matter what, we must demand an election this November. Even the debates about which candidate is or isn't better, or whether one will or won't make a difference, are now moot....
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