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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

I rant, I rave, Iraq
The U.S. is torturing and killing terrorists. Who's next?

So, it comes down to this.

Either Saddam totally disarms, turning over all of his hidden biological and chemical weapons and/or goes into exile, or the U.S. opens fire next week with billions of dollars worth of weaponry - with or without world approval.

I have a far less expensive option. It involves a bullet and Hussein's head.  I'd even be willing to shell out the $2 to pay for the bullet. All we have to do is find someone good enough to put it in.

I can say this with legal impunity. Under the changes implemented by the Bush administration since 9/11, political assassination outside of U.S. borders now appears to be legal.

Legal scholars are mixed on whether we've totally lifted the presidential ban on assassinations Gerald Ford established in the wake of the Vietnam War. But it is clear that instead of treating Al-Qaida operatives as the international criminals they are, the CIA and U.S. military have begun hunting them down and killing them.

I'm sure you're not reaching for the tissue to dry your eyes.

Another 9/11 change, is that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged Sept. 11 mastermind caught last weekend, is being held incommunicado at an undisclosed location while being "interrogated" by Pakistani and U.S. officials.

I have no sympathy for the man, that's for sure. But what assurances do we have that Shaikh Mohammed isn't being tortured to give up what he knows?

He is a prisoner of an undeclared war and being held outside of U.S. borders on purpose so his legal status and basic human rights are in question.

Why should you care if alleged terrorists are tortured? After all, there is no mention of Shaikh Mohammed on the Amnesty Intenational Web site (Amnesty.org).

Any government that condones assassination and torture is clearly an enemy of freedom, no matter if it's Iraq or the U.S.

Invade Iraq?
Should the U.S. invade Iraq?


Current Results

How soon until enemies of Democracy are found within these borders? And what happens then? How far are we willing to go in suspending our civil liberties and the Constitution in the name of national protection?

Even before Sept. 11th, our government was monitoring our e-mail and intercepting our phone calls. Now, it seems all bets are off.

Eternal vigilence is the price of freedom, but freedom and the right to live should not be the price of our security - either here or abroad.


  • Researchers work on anti-terror program
    Financed by more than $20 million in government contracts, researchers are taking the first steps toward developing a system that could sift through the financial, telephone, travel and medical records of millions of people in hopes of identifying terrorists before they strike.
    (Published: 02/13/2003)

  • Anti-terror intelligence oversight formed
    Two oversight boards are being set up to monitor a Pentagon anti-terrorist technology experiment that critics fear could lead to spying on the financial transactions of unwitting citizens, officials said Friday.
    (Published: 01/16/2003)

  • Hastert raises doubts on surveillance
    House Speaker Dennis Hastert raised doubts Friday about the fate of a Pentagon surveillance project after the Senate voted to ban the technology that mines government and commercial databases to identify potential terrorists.
    (Published: 01/27/2003)

  • Senate Democrats try to stop data-mining
    Senate Democrats, warning of a serious abuse of privacy rights, said Thursday they will try to shut down programs aimed at helping to identify potential domestic terrorists by amassing database information about people's lives.
    (Published: 01/16/2003)

  • ACLU report: Privacy rights diminished
    The United States is evolving into a Big Brother society as technology advances and post-Sept 11 surveillance increases, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a new report.
    (Published: 01/16/2003)

  • Farewell to freedom?
    On Dec. 6, retiring House Majority Leader Dick Armey gave his farewell address at the National Press Club in Washington.
    (Published: 01/03/2003)


Last week's column (Philly fan's lament) on why Mike Schmidt and other sports heroes don't love Philly back, produced several responses in my inbox.

Nick from Hammonton, N.J., wrote:

I guess Mike never cared for the city because the fans booed him. I know Charles Barkley continues to own a home in the Philly suburbs. And Scott Rolen's dislike for Philadelphia doesn't surprise anyone. However, Keith Primeau not being happy here is a surprise to read.
I suppose some players cannot take the pressure of playing in a city like Philadelphia or New York, where the fans take the performance of its sports teams so seriously.

Ralis responds: It's not that Primeau dislikes Philly. He's basically a shy guy and hates the limelight. He'd rather just play hockey, then go home to his family and let Jeremy Roenick do the interviews.

A reader named JackJohn wrote that I incorrectly wrote that Garry Maddox Jr. was still playing for the Atlantic City Surf, on which he played in the outfield last year. He enclosed a brief story saying Maddox had signed a contract with a minor league Phillies club. I could not find the report on the Phillies' Web site and it's unclear which minor league club he might have joined.

Finally, reader JGSJR wrote:

I moved here from Boston a year and half ago. I have been a Philly fan all of my life - born in South Philly. The answer is simple - between the way the media and fans treat players many of them just don't want to be here. You need a tough hide to play in Philly to ignore the constant criticism (WIP, Daily News, etc.).

The one way to combat this is to bust your butt even if you don't/can't produce at a high level. Many fans just appreciate the effort but it doesn't change that this is not a town for the easily "hurt" egos.

BTW - Boston and New York aren't much different. You will also find a number of players that Philly takes to its heart because of the way they act and play while in Philly.

Dave Ralis' Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays. You can send him an e-mail at . To read his previous columns, click here.

March 10, 2003