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OP-ED:

All I Want For New Year's Is My Rights Back

by Ward Reilly

Reid, Kucinich and Schumer (and many other congresspeople) tell us that Bush and Cheney trample the Constitution. Yet they do nothing, in real terms, to stop them.
12-31-2007—All I want for New Year's 2008 is the Bill Of Rights. Okay, okay...the actual Constitution document sits safely in a vault somewhere in Washington D.C. (not being used). So let me change my wish.

All I want for New Year's is to have my Rights back. Constitutionally speaking.

I know that's a LOT to hope and dream for. You're probably thinking, "GET REAL, Ward." I understand.

Considering that my Rights have been gone for so long, and that they are now scattered and hidden in some dark basement under the White House, how can I seriously hope to get them back?

We'll get to that in just a moment.

I've searched for my Rights, like a possessed citizen, really, since I was a kid, starting right after six rednecks jumped me at Robert E. Lee H.S. in 1967, and ripped my paisley bell-bottoms off of me, like the hate-filled animals that they were. I thought I had a Right to wear them...hey, if Jimi was going to wear them, hell, so was I. It's was my Right, but the rednecks sure didn't think so.

I searched for my rights for 25 years during my working career, looking in all three branches of the government, those being the municipal, the state, and the federal branches, and I couldn't find them. Whether I was in the infantry, in a survey crew, or inspecting private contractors building government bridges, I searched. And I've searched for them on the streets, all over this country, since 2000, which is when I retired, right at the same time Bush was appointed President by the (not so) Supreme Court.

I know that my Rights are out there somewhere. I read about them, and was told about them, in school... and the Army told me I could have them back as soon as I got out of the Green Machine, so I know they must exist. We had no rights in the army.... I remember that, distinctly. But that's the way it was.

Many, many, military veterans started helping me look for them, also, around the year 2000, because they knew that my insane-obsessed-search wasn't good for my blood pressure. Of course, they all thought that they were looking for THEIR Rights, but I know for a fact that those Rights belong to me. So there! And what do a bunch of veterans know about (my) Rights anyway? But hey, four eyes are better than two when you're looking for something, right?

I looked for my Rights in Crawford,Texas, four or five times. I heard that they were hidden at some ranch out there. Nope, not there. I looked in Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Seattle, St. Louis, Baton Rouge, Mobile, Atlanta, Covington, and New Orleans. I couldn't find them anywhere. I did find a (government-issued) "Free Speech Zone" in Baton Rouge once, in 2005, when George Bush came to Louisiana State University. My Rights weren't in the free speech zone, though.

I even went to three or four military bases, like Ft. Bragg, N.C., and Ft. Benning, Ga., looking for them there. I was hoping that SURELY the good folks in the military might be able to help me find them. They can find ANYTHING, with our high-tech, zillion-dollar military (except bin Laden)... hey, I was in the Infantry, and I know how good they are at finding things. But, believe it or not, the military told me something about the "Commander in Chief" being in charge, and for me to go ask him.

I decided to do just that. I decided to join some friends at the White House. I thought maybe I hadn't looked hard enough the last time I had been there, and this time, instead of looking for ALL my Rights at one time, I thought I'd try to simply find ONE of them, for starters. Surely I could find just one of them.

Screw impeachment. Impeachment won't save our country, or my Rights. What's needed is a citizen's arrest.
You see, the Right I actually decided to go searching for on this particular day at the (very) White House, was my Right to perform a "citizen's arrest," because I knew of several Constitutional crimes being committed at that particular location. So a citizen's arrest seemed like the "right" thing to do, to help me along the road to finding the rest of my Rights.

So, on November 7th, 2006 (election day), I, and a few friends (mom—Cindy, x-CIA—Ray, x-Col—Ann, x-Grunt—Bp, DU—Dennis, vets Mike & Bruce, and a few others) met at the Capitol to hang around, to sit-in for two days, raise some hell, and to search for my Rights.

On the 8th, right after we all heard that Rumsfeld had resigned, I knocked on the gate in front of George's White House, to get the attention of the agent there, and the Secret Service man asked me what I wanted? I told the agent, "I want to make a 'citizens arrest' of President George Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney."

I was serious. Seriously. He looked at my like I am crazy, which I probably am.

The story doesn't end there, of course.

So anyway... the Secret Service guy actually goes and gets his supervisor. And Mr. Superior Secret Service man comes back with the first agent, and asks me the same question, plus he asks me "who I am." So I told him. This time both of them went to the little booth and huddled for a few minutes...and then they came back and told me this; "Mr. Reilly, the reason they call it a 'citizen's arrest' is that you have to do it by yourself, without the help of "authorities."

Hmmm...I already knew that. So I told them both that I already knew that, but that I needed them to open the gate, so that I could come in and do it, because otherwise I would have to jump over the fence (which would be a felony-crime, in itself). Plus I'm kind of old to be jumping over 6-foot fences unless I really have to. So I repeated to them for the third time that I needed them to open the gate.

They said, "No, Mr Reilly, we aren't going to open the gate." I told them that I didn't think that they would, and I told them that they were stopping me from exercising my Rights, which made them complicit in the crimes being committed inside the White House. I also told one of them that he worked for me. And he said that he didn't...I disagreed strongly with that, in that his paycheck comes from tax dollars, but that was a different matter. I wanted to arrest Bush and Cheney.

THAT is the end of the story, but that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about somebody in Congress making a "citizen's arrest" of Bush and Cheney, since the Secret Service won't let me do it.

In April, Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced an 11-page resolution to impeach Mr. Cheney—essentially telling our nation that he KNOWS that Cheney has broken the law. Then he went on "The Colbert Report" to laugh it up. Ha Ha.

Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) directly acknowledged the administration's "continual disregard for the rule of law, separation of powers, and binding nature of laws and treaties of the United States," but he still refuses support for impeachment. Then Capuano actually said, "We should not deny the President the rights that I believe his administration has denied to others." Then he went fishing or something like that, knowing that the White House was denying our Rights to us all. Ho Hum.

Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, described Mr. Bush's action in commuting the sentence of Lewis Libby as "disgraceful." Then he went home for supper. What's a little "disgrace" among politicians, anyway?

Charles Schumer, a Democratic senator, said of the Libby crimes: "As Independence Day nears, we're reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under the law. This commutation completely tramples on that principle." Then he went shopping at the mall. After all, it's just common citizens being "trampled."

So Reid, Kucinich and Schumer (and many other congresspeople) tell us that Bush and Cheney trample the Constitution. Yet they do nothing, in real terms, to stop them.

Cynthia McKinney says, "We have a President who has misgoverned and a Congress that has refused to hold him accountable. It is a grave situation, and I believe the stakes for our country are high. President George W. Bush has failed to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States; he has failed to ensure that senior members of his administration do the same; and he has betrayed the trust of the American people." Then she announces that she wants to be President. After all, it's JUST the Constitution being "betrayed."

So my question to ANY and EVERY member of Congress is this: Why don't some of you get together one day, and MARCH YOUR ASSES over to the White House and perform a citizen's arrest? What are you waiting for? "We The People" are being trampled and betrayed out here....and much, much worse things are happening in our names.

How many people have to be killed, tortured, raped, kidnapped, spied upon, and violated, before ANY of you politicians gather up the courage to go and ARREST those two criminals? How can you go home each night, KNOWING that you can stop them today, using YOUR Bill of Rights to do it, by arresting them?

Happy New Year, you say?

None of you would have to jump the fence at the White House, like I would have to, to get to them inside. Each and every one of you has a free pass to Bush and Cheney's offices, unlike me or my veteran buddies.

When are ANY of them, be it Pelosi, Kennedy, Kerry, Reid, McCain, Schumer, Richardson, or Kucinich, going to do their DUTY, exercise their Rights, and arrest those criminals? Screw impeachment. Impeachment won't save our country, or my Rights. It is time that those that are supposedly on the "left" to get-right with our Rights, the Rights that they all swore to uphold and protect.

It is time for ANY Congressperson with vision, guts, and a backbone to perform a citizen's arrest. If they don't, then they are no different than Bush and Cheney, who are war criminals, torturers, Constitution rapers, and living wayyyyy ABOVE the law. You have a Right to arrest them, and you can get to them without breaking any laws.

The one (or ones) that does it will be a world-class hero. The ones that don't, are simply complicit in MANY crimes, sort of like those guys at the Secret Service gate that wouldn't let me in.

I really don't want to have to jump over that fence at the White House, but I damn sure will, if I'm forced to by the inaction of those I elected to protect my Bill of Rights and our Constitution—as will many other veterans. If Bush and Cheney are allowed to retire, the USA, ergo MY Rights, are DOA.

It's time for even ONE member of Congress to show the courage to act. Just one...but the more the merrier.

All I want for New Year's is the Bill of Rights, in the form of a citizen's arrest.


Ward Reilly is active with Vietnam Veterans against the War and Veterans For Peace. He was a volunteer Infantryman in the First Infantry Division from 1971 to 1974. He writes from Louisiana.


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This story was published on January 3, 2008.