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Posted:Those of you who have been following some of the tactics that the Bush administration has been using in the name of the "War on Terror" in the past two years may be familiar with the case of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who was arrested on American soil and is being held without legal representation, charges, or trial in a military prison as an "enemy combatant." He is not accused of any crime, but the assumption is that he was trying to plant a "dirty bomb," a conventional explosive laced with radioactive material somewhere in the U.S.
Yesterday, in a 2 to 1 ruling, a federal appeals court in New York ruled that the President does not have the authority to hold U.S. citizens in custody indefinately without any legal representation on the ground that they are "enemy combatants." The government has 30 days to release Mr. Padilla, although they do have the option to release him to the civilian criminal system where he can be charged with a crime and tried in a court of law by a jury of his peers.
Also, recently a federal appeals court in California ruled that prisoners held in Guantanamo bay in Cuba should have access to lawyers and the American court system.
I'm very relieved by these two rulings. If they had upheld the President's authority to arbitrarily declare a U.S. civilian citizen captured on U.S. soil an "enemy combatant" and deny that citizen their constitutional right to an attorney and to a speedy and public trial, then this could be abused in horrifying ways. The Bush administration has already tried to point out that using illegal drugs supports Al-Qaeda by funding their drug smuggling efforts that they supposedly use to fund their operations. Imagine if the executive branch was given the authority to declare all drug offenders, including non-violent ones, "enemy combatants," and imprison them indefinately without a trial. That sort of abuse is well within the realm of possibility.
It will be interesting to see if the executive branch complies with these rulings or if they try to resist...possibly bringing the entire government down with them.
Regardless of what Padilla did or was planning to do, the evidence should be sufficient to try and convict him in a civilian court of law, and the means to punish him are available.
As for the prisoners at Guantanamo, I'm not sure what to do about them. But we can't just keep them forever. How long will they stay there? The rest of their lives? If they don't fall under the Geneva Convention (and it can be argued that they don't) they still are human beings and must be treated as something other than "completely unclassifiable."
I am not denying that the safety of the people of the U.S. is important, but if our freedom is destroyed by our own government, then what good does all the "safety" in the world do us? Iraquis will tell you that Baghdad was a very safe city under Hussein, which illustrates that absolute safety comes at an unacceptable price: totalitarianism.
I'm glad that the courts have informed Bush that he is not a dictator and that he must stop trying to behave like one. Give me freedom or give me death, but I understand that I can't have it both ways.
-Mike )'( Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella
Posted:I never read heard about Padilla untill the other day. Good thing though. More reasons for me to hate Bush. The RIAA thing is cool. It made me go spin. I've got the best sweater ever to wear if I get sued to.
Posted:Thats great!!! Another Victory for freedom There is much change ahead and although the storm might look rough there's always the sun shinning to bring a new day Support your mind not what your fed