Sunday, October 28, 2007

Indebtedness to U.S. Never Ends according to Rep. Lantos

Dutch lawmakers got scolded by a California Democratic Representative for challenging prisoners' legal rights at Guantanamo Bay. Rep. Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor and Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said several things that offended the contingent from the Netherlands.

"Europe was not as outraged by Auschwitz as by Guantanamo Bay."

Recall the prison for "the worst of the worst" went from over 775 occupants to 360. Did the U.S. SuperMax prison transfer or release over 50% of its patient population between 2002 and summer of 2007? A legal expert with Seton Hall University's Law School in studying the Guantanamo detainees' cases, said that 55 percent have never been accused of committing a hostile act against the United States or its allies and that 60 percent were neither fighters for the Taliban nor for al-Qaeda.

One might expect Mr. Lantos to have compassion for innocent people wrongly held. Never mind the expectation that a chairman of a Congressional foreign affairs committee should actually employ tact and sensitivity when dealing with his international counterparts.

Where did the Netherlands score on developing poor countries, often the petri dish for terrorism? Funny, they came in 1st, while the U.S. came in 14th out of 21 countries in building good government, prosperity, and security.

It seems the Congressman should have been listening instead of tossing verbal bombs. Rep. Lantos went on to challenge the Dutch lawmakers to extend their 1,600 troop NATO commitment to Afghanistan.

"You have to help us, because if it was not for us you would now be a province of Nazi Germany."

Really, Tom? The world saw the rise and fall of the Soviet Union during this time. How does he know the German empire would now rival its American counterpart? How many U.S. military bases sit across the globe? What other country formally staked its claim to the high seas and any minerals found underneath, to outer space, and over the world wide web, also known as info space?

I spoke with my parents this morning about America's march to a closed society as chronicled by author Naomi Wolf in The End of America. They seem sure a Democratic win would stem the sinking tide of personal freedom. Rep. Tom Lantos gives me zero confidence in their lofty view.

I know a number of Democratic Senators in the pockets of for-profit health care companies. They accept donations from hospital companies with no facilities in their state. Presidential leader Hillary Clinton is in the purse of lobbying firms and Wall Street investment houses. A quick look at her top donor list shows numerous well know D.C. law firms and New York based financial giants.

Fascism is the mix of corporate and governmental power over citizens. The unholy combination makes the rules and people have to play by them, or else. Tom Lantos experienced the full blown version of this as a child. But it didn't start that way.

Freedoms were lost a little at a time. Outcast groups grew in size and scope over the years. Why would he want others to slide down the slippery slope that ended years later in his detention? The signs are there according to Ms. Wolf. America is currently experiencing 9 out of 10 ways an open society becomes closed. While Republicans may currently lead the way with their "double Guantanamo" chants, numerous Democrats ride willing alongside.

As for Mr. Lantos ruing Europe's past hand sitting as Germany fell into full blown fascism, I'm surprised. I expect him to be proud that current world leaders recognize the signs of freedom's loss. Their challenging offenders must occur now, before it's too late and future young Tom's are wrongly incarcerated.