Jefferson's democracy

Franklin Jefferson's thoughts on the world

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

US Citizen Held Without Trial

OK. The guy's an American citizen, born in America-- if he gets arrested, he has the right to a trial, a lawyer, all that. This is what America means by freedom. We don't hold people in secret jails, in solitary confinement, without the right to talk to their family or a lawyer, without charges, indefinitely. That's what dictatorships do.

There it is, right in the bill of rights... still there, yep--- due process of law, amendment V.

from the LA Times (quoted by The Moderate Voice:
The court's action leaves unresolved the question of whether the president as commander in chief has the power to arrest and hold without trial Americans whom he believes are working for the enemy.

President Bush and his lawyers have claimed this power as part of his wartime authority. However, both the Constitution and U.S. law say that American citizens cannot be arrested and held without due process of law. That usually involves, at minimum, a hearing before a judge in which the detained person can challenge the government's basis for holding him.

The Bush administration has accused Padilla of being part of a terrorist conspiracy. It has steadfastly refused to give him a hearing to challenge those chargess. Rather than charge him as a criminal, the White House said the president had decided to hold Padilla in military custody. He was not permitted to speak with his family or with a lawyer, and no charges were filed against him.

This is not just a little while here-- we're talking about a guy being held for four years without being charged. Let me check, yep, it's still there in the constitution: a right to a speedy trial, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, and to be confronted with the witnesses, right there in the U.S. Constitution, Amendment VI. Nothing about "unless the president says otherwise."

The Republican summarizes it:

Padilla was born in Chicago. He is a U.S. citizen. He was apprehended on U.S. soil. But he was not afforded the rights of a native-born citizen captured inside our borders. Why? Because, the administration says, we are at war. But Padilla was not detained as a prisoner of war. Why? Presumably, the administration would argue, because this is a different kind of war with its own set of rules.

That is not the logic of our constitutional form of government, our system of checks and balances. The high court stepped aside when it should have stepped forward.


Blogger The Conservative UAW Guy said...

The high court is out to lunch oft times.

Thanks for stopping by my site.

I think I'm becoming a neolibertarian!!!

4/05/2006 6:09 AM  
Blogger Franklin Jefferson said...

and thanks for stopping by mine.

"I think I'm becoming a neolibertarian!!!"

Yes, I'm becoming increasingly disaffected by all the people who claimed to represent my opinions.

4/05/2006 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Geoffrey A. Landis said...

A quote I saw from rasfw seems appropriate, given the supreme court's Padilla decision yesterday (or, rather, lack of decision).

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgement of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."
-- W. Churchill, Nov 21, 1943

Geoffrey A. Landis

4/05/2006 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Here's "What would the founders say?", from a blog that has a lot of quotes from the US founding fathers that are relevant to the current political scene.

For example, Thomas Paine in Dissertation on the First Prinicples of Government (1795):

"An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.
"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

Geoffrey A. Landis

4/06/2006 1:43 PM  

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