President Bush stated myth as fact when he called 9/11 an “unprecedented attack on our soil” (Nov. 8, 2006). This myth is that the mainland has never been attacked before. The greatest irony is that the term “patriot” is used in enunciating this myth while the myth obliterates the very attacks on American soil that were suffered and which forged the enduring values of our country. These tribulations on our soil set the stage for the drafting of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. American Patriots faced overwhelming odds in attacks from the 50,000 British troops sent to put down the establishment of a new nation. As well, 30,000 Hessians, Scots Highlanders and other hired mercenaries poured into America by sea and through Canada in 1775-76. When, late in the Revolutionary War, the Americans were being routed from New York, the British burned and the Hessians ransacked dwellings. One British soldier wrote that the Hessians used bayonets to “put all to death that fell into their hands.” In that one battle, more than 1,000 patriots died. Early on, the Americans lost the historic battle at Bunker Hill and 14,000 British troops and 5000 British sympathizers occupied Boston for 10 months. This was followed by attacks, often successful for the British, along the Eastern Seaboard, including Falmouth, Long Island, Lake Champlain, Newport, Princeton, and Danbury. Cities were burned and occupied by the enemy. Just before the beginning of the Revolutionary War, John Adams, the future president, intervened on behalf of the young British soldiers arrested for the Boston Massacre. Adams believed that human rights demanded fair treatment of prisoners, a trial, and counsel, even for the enemy. He insisted on serving free as their counsel.
Habeas corpus, a right guaranteed in the Constitution is essentially eliminated in the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which sets up what has been described as a “kangaroo court” for non-citizens at Guantanamo. The newly reintroduced Restoration of Habeas Corpus Bill sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. should be passed. This bill will restore judicial procedure for prisoners caught in indefinite summary detention. [Excerpted from Koenig in Lansing State Journal, 9/23/07.]