In certain ways, the Rights & Liberties Top 10 list is the most depressing of the year. Nevertheless it demonstrates why consistent and critical media coverage is crucial for beating back the erosion of our basic freedoms. And it should give us hope for the new year, for as many problems the conservative stranglehold has created in our present, we have the power, and the knowledge, to shape the future.
10. Disappeared: Five Years in Guantanamo by Lou Dubose, The Washington Spectator
In 2001, 19-year-old Murat Kurnaz was an innocent man caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Accused of being a terrorist, he spent five years in Guantanamo before being released -- now he's telling his story.
9. America Gone Wrong: A Slashed Safety Net Turns Libraries into Homeless Shelters by Chip Ward, Tomdispatch.com.
A dirty little secret about America is that public libraries have become de facto daytime shelters for the nation's street people while librarians are increasingly our unofficial social workers for the homeless and mentally disturbed.
8. Life in Solitary Confinement: 12,775 Days Alone by Brooke Shelby Biggs, AlterNet.
Americans shamefully imagine that spending a life sentence in solitary confinement could only happen in faraway countries. But two men in Louisiana's Angola prison know otherwise.
7. The War on Drugs Is Really a War on Minorities by Arianna Huffington, Los Angeles Times. Democratic presidential candidates crave the Latino and black vote, but ignore the Drug War's unfair toll on people of color.
6. In Violation of Federal Law, Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election Records Are Destroyed or Missing by Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet.
In 56 of Ohio's 88 counties, ballots and election records from 2004 have been "accidentally" destroyed, despite a federal order to preserve them -- it was crucial evidence which would have revealed whether the election was stolen.
5. The 'Silent' Ninth Amendment Gives Americans Rights They Don't Know They Have by Daniel A. Farber, Basic Books.
The First Amendment right of free speech and the Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination are well-known, but the Ninth Amendment is ignored. Pity, because it bears directly on abortion, the right to die and gay rights.
4. Is a Presidential Coup Under Way? by Jim Hightower, Hightower Lowdown.
The Constitution is being trampled and nothing less than American democracy itself is endangered -- a presidential coup is taking place. Where is Congress?
3. Don't We Have a Constitution, Not a King? by Marjorie Cohn, AlterNet.
Bush has issued a directive that would place all governmental powers in his hands in the case of a catastrophic emergency. If a terrorist attack happens before the 2008 election, could Bush and Cheney use this to avoid relinquishing power to a successor administration?
2. The End of America? Naomi Wolf Thinks It Could Happen by Don Hazen, AlterNet. An interview with author Naomi Wolf, whose new book, "The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot," may confirm your worries about democracy in America.
1. The Rise of Christian Fascism and Its Threat to American Democracy by Chris Hedges, Truthdig.
We must attend to growing social and economic inequities in order to stop the most dangerous mass movement in American history -- or face a future of fascism under the guise of Christian values.