Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Disappeared

The Night and Fog Decree was a set of directives issued by Hitler which authorized the "disappearing" of resisters to the Nazi State. The Nazis justified this tactic by arguing that the power to secretly kill people produced fear among the population and was a powerful means of social control.

The decree stated:

"An effective and lasting deterrent can be achieved only by the death penalty or by taking measures which will leave the family and the population uncertain as to the fate of the offender."

This method has since become a trademark of brutal dictatorships. Regimes that seek to control their populations and fear popular resistance often resort to "disappearing" their enemies. In response, the international community has strongly declared this practice to be a gross violation of human rights.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration has grown fond of the practice as another weapon in their war on terror. The discovery of secret prisons, or "black sites", has exposed the United States as being at odds with the international consensus against secret detentions.

The public must never stand for secret executions and detentions. We have a sophisticated legal system which, despite its flaws, is capable of administering justice far more fairly than the CIA. Tacit consent of such a policy only serves to legitimate the concentration of authority in the hands of a select few, violating the basic precepts of our founding principles.

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