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News Link • Bill of Rights

James Zogby: US rhetoric strays far from America’s founding values

And while we’re on the subject of the constitution, it is important to take Mrs Palin to task for embracing what has become a popular misconception, and that is that the rights detailed in the constitution are “ours” alone. Leaving aside former President Bush’s disturbing claim the America was charged by the Almighty to bring the “gift of freedom” to the world, US courts have continually affirmed that the rights described in the constitution apply to all “persons” who reside in the United States, not just citizens. Not only that, but US courts have also determined that the constitutional rights of habeas corpus, due process, protections against “cruel and unusual punishment” and self-incrimination also apply to prisoners in US custody in places such as Guantanamo or even some of those detained at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. It is vitally important to pierce through the cloud of obfuscation and inflated rhetoric of the past decade and to advance a clearer understanding of who we are as a people and the exact nature of our role in the world. The reality we will discover is neither Mr Bush’s divinely ordained America with its saving mission, nor Mrs Palin’s more narrowly defined chauvinism. It will require that we undergo a painful process of self-examination demanding full transparency and full accountability for past behaviour. As difficult as it may be to acknowledge, we cannot continue to ignore the fact that innocent lives were lost in an unnecessary war and America’s reputation was sullied by horrific and illegal acts committed in our name.

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