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Land of the free?
by Jeff Blanck
May 19, 2008 | 542 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
That’s what we are, the land of the free. Actually, we started out as the land-of-the-free, white European immigrants but we have finally gotten around to freeing everyone. It took us more than 150 years but now (at least in theory) we are all free.

What confuses me is how we can be the land of the free when we have new residents of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and the dozens of other foreign nationals that we have sent to secret prisons in Eastern Europe. The label doesn’t seem to fit.

To make matters worse, we now have our president and vice president saying that it is OK for us to torture our prisoners. Waterboarding sounds like a new American sport but it is torture, pure and simple. How did we end up acting like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union? We are supposed to be the good guys.

The Nazis routinely tortured those that they felt were a threat to Germany. The problem with that approach is that you can get people to say almost anything under torture. And if you say you are only torturing enemies of your country that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because, after you torture an innocent man, he will become your enemy.

We have prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who are being held without charge or the right to a lawyer. The Soviet Union did that throughout its existence. They called it the Gulag. If you said something against mother Russia, you were taken in the middle of the night and never seen again.

Our country didn’t use to be this way. After we defeated Nazi Germany, we put their leaders on trial at Nuremberg. We even gave them lawyers. We weren’t going to become like them. We constantly berated the Soviet Union for its civil rights violations and their lack of due process of law. We were better than they were, too.

So what happened? How did we become the evil we were fighting against? Some say it was 9/11. It actually was what Bush and his buddies did after 9/11. He told us that if we wanted to be safe we would have to give up our rights and let the government go get the bad guys, or at least who they thought were bad guys. We created a new, huge bureaucracy called Homeland Security and gave them the Patriot Act. But ask yourself, are we any safer now? I don’t think so.

We were attacked by Saudis who came in through Canada. Bush invaded Iraq and we are building a wall on the Mexican border. It is true that there have been no new terrorist attacks in the United States. Bush solved that problem by sending Americans to the terrorists. Why should the terrorists come here if they can just go next door to Iraq?

Because we are fighting the “axis of evil” and the “enemies of freedom,” we must be the good guys. But ask the innocent men and women whom we have imprisoned what they think of our Land of the Free. Whether they are in Cuba or in Eastern Europe, how do they view us? Through fear, our President has transformed us into what we were fighting against.

We used to have a saying in this country: “I’d rather let 10 guilty men go free than convict one innocent man.” Now we imprison 10 innocent men in the hopes of finding one guilty one. I want my country back. I want to live in the land of the free where all men are created equal, no exceptions. The exception could be you.

Jeff Blanck is an attorney in private practice in Reno. He can be reached at:
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Land of the free? by Jeff Blanck

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