Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"This is how democracy ends, not with a bomb, but with a gavel"

So, I no longer have access to the American news media except via the net, so I cannot say what they are and are not covering. But I can make wild guesses:
1) Michael Jackson verdict
2) Kylie Minogue beating breast cancer
3) police search for (white, female) kidnap victim

But they probably weren't covering the hearing on the Patriot Act held by democrats from the House Judiciary Committee last Friday (I am a couple of days off, because I was out of town), which was abruptly, unilaterally and in opposition to House rules shut down by the Republican Chairman, James Sensenbrenner.

Invoking a rarely used Congressional rule which allows minority members to hold an extra day of hearings and to choose witness if they feel that the those brought forth by the majority party have been unduly biased, the democrats organized Friday's hearings to hear testimony from new witnesses from groups such as Amnesty International USA and the American Immigration Lawyers Association that have questioned the constitutionality of some aspects of the act.

Sensenbrenner, one of the authors of the Patriot Act, shut off the microphones in the middle of the hearing, declaring that much of the testimony - especially that related to the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay - was irrelevant to the Act.

Representative Jerold Nadler (D-NY) protested as his mirciphone went off saying "We are not besmirching the honor of the United States, we are trying to uphold it."

After the mircophones had been shut off, Sensenbrenner stormed from the room quckly gaveling the meeting to a close.

James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, expressed dismay immediately after Sensenbrenner had left:
I just saw something...totally inappropriate. No mic on and no record being kept. But I think as we are lecturing foreign governments about the conduct of their behavior with regard to opposition -- when I see the behavior I saw here today as an American -- I'm really troubled about what kind of lesson this is going to teach to other countries in the world about how they ought to conduct an open society that allows for an opposition with rights. I'm sorry, I'm very offended." [applause in the room]

Since Friday Nadler (D-NY) has introduced a privileged resolution in the House which seeks to rebuke House Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for abusing his power.

More coverage of this story can be found at the following sites: Newsmax.com, Guardian, Perspectives.com, Washington Post,Bradblog.com and radio host Randi Rhodes has a special web site with audio and video clips and compiled articles.

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