On December 16 Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio voted to toss people into prison forever without charges, just because the government says that these people are terrorists. The Government doesn’t have to file charges or prove its accusations in court. That would be a trial, and trials are apparently out of date.
In voting to pass S. 1867, Sherrod Brown acted to erode the right to a fair trial in America and to replace it with a system of indefinite detention, a gulag archipelago. Some may say that this is an aberration in an other wise fine career, that overall Senator Brown has a fine record when it comes to supporting individual rights and opposing excessive government power. They may say that, but the historical record shows otherwise.
In the 111th Congress of 2009-2010, Senator Sherrod voted to pass S.Amdt. 1133 to H.R. 2346. This amendment tried to make it illegal for the President to give anyone in indefinite detention at the Guantanamo facility a trial, despite revelations that many of the detainees there had turned out to be innocent of terrorism and that the United States knew it.
Back in 2006, when Sherrod Brown was a U.S. Representative running for Senate, he voted for H.R. 6166, a bill to scuttle habeus corpus rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, install undemocratic executive committees without review to designate citizens and noncitizens alike as “enemy combatants, and detain non-citizens indefinitely without standards for proof. You could say that H.R. 6166 was the big lead-up to S. 1867, the bill Sherrod Brown helped pass in 2011.
The thing is, after the campaign was over and Sherrod Brown won office to the Senate, he said he was really really sorry. Voting for H.R. 6166, he said, was a mistake, an aberration, and exception that didn’t accurately characterize the way he really truly felt about people’s constitutional rights. He even went on The Young Turks to apologize and promise he’d not only never do it again, but that he’d even correct it when he next got the chance:
Cenk Uygur: Thanks for joining us Senator. We appreciate it. I gotta start off with the question we’ve had now for over six months, I gotta ask you, why did you vote for the Military Commissions Act?
Sherrod Brown: It was a bad vote. I shouldn’t have.
Cenk Uygur: Oh, wow. Okay.
Sherrod Brown: A vote I’ll correct … when it comes.
Cenk Uygur: So, you regret that?
Sherrod Brown: I take responsibility. It was the heat of the campaign and I made a mistake.
Cenk Uygur: So, if it comes again you’re going to change the vote?
Sherrod Brown: You bet.
Voting for S. 1867 and expanding indefinite detention without charges or trials to include citizens and people on U.S. soil is a funny way of correcting his initial vote.
Sherrod Brown must have thought Cenk Uygur and his listeners were stupid, fools and dupes if he was going to make that promise and then go right on pushing for indefinite detention again and again. If Cenk Uygur asks people to support Sherrod Brown for Senate this time around, and if Ohioans who oppose indefinite detention vote for Sherrod Brown again, who’s to say he was wrong in that assessment?