On the third of February, 1948, I swore to defend this country against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. I did not pay much attention to that at the time. Like three-fourths of the men in my high school class, I was looking for two weeks of fun and adventure each year with weapons and war machines while continuing my civilian pursuits, and starting at a better pay grade when we answered the call that Tennesseans traditionally answer.

In previous years, WWII had become quite familiar with the Geneva Convention, which we, the British and French observed most of the time, and Germans tried to observe on the Western front. I was aware of the Japanese atrocities on prisoners of war without respect to what the prisoner might know. I did not become aware until many years later what was done by both sides on the Eastern front.

In ’49, after studying the Civil War from the Southern point of view, we studied the Constitution, and the many rights, privileges, and liberties that it promised to all citizens (in those days white, heterosexual males). They were jealously guarded and protected by all three branches of federal government, and most branches of state governments.

Under the guise of the war on terror, the war on drugs, and the war on organized crime those rights have been seriously eroded by all three branches, not only against those targets, but against ordinary, law-abiding citizens.

Our government in all of its branches and all of its components has become an enemy of the people in its excessive actions domestically, overseas, and that place which George Bush says is outside all law and all ethics.

Not only have we ignored the Geneva Convention with respect to prisoners who might have had sensitive information, we have continued to mistreat them long after anything they knew was valuable. We have denied many prisoners the right to be visited by legal representatives. We have denied the Red Cross regular access to all prisoners. We have held prisoners in solitary confinement long after any fruitful interrogation was possible. We continue to torture prisoners, or whatever one wishes to call it. The U.S. has ignored the Geneva Convention in handling ordinary foot soldiers captured on the battlefield who were very unlikely to know much of strategic importance.

I have trouble respecting our government at all levels. I have been active as a Democrat for most of my adult years, especially since coming to Oak Park, when I had time to be quite active. I will continue to vote for most members of that party, but I cannot work for them. I did two hitches of active duty, and the balance of 20 ready to be called when needed. This enhances my privilege of speaking out.

Lewis Carmichael
Oak Park

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