Tuesday, November 14, 2006

ENEMY COMBATANT: HELD AT 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVE?

Less than one week after being informed by the American people that they weren't interested in its bullshit, the Adminstration started shoveling again yesterday, making it clear that immigrants have no legal rights whatsoever. Affirming the grist of the Military Commissions Act, Justice Department lawyers filed papers with the 4th Circuit, arguing that the new law "applies to foreigners captured and held in the United States . . . regardless of the location of the detention."

Basically, label an immigrant an "enemy combatant," and hold him indefinitely, denying him all facets of due process: a lawyer, a speedy trial, a civilian court, rules of evidence recognized under the common law or the Federal Rules, and most damningly, any habeus corpus review of the detention in the first place.

And this is precisely what's happening to Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar. He was "arrested in 2001 while studying in the United States," and is still held in a South Carolina prison, denied any due process.

Getting back to where I started, this is the sort of nonsense for which we smacked down Bush & his allies last week. And here's one -- just one -- area that the Dems can do something when they take over in January. I'm not saying they have to walk in the door, take their oaths, and start freeing every terror suspect. For all I know this guy could be guilty, which is one reason he should be tried and if required, convicted.

But the Dems should start early enough exploring the repeal of certain distasteful laws & initiatives. This is certainly one. The renewed Patriot Act is another. Bush & the NSA's wiretapping program. I'm not up on Administrative Law, nor do I know much about parliamentary procedure or congressional rules. But they should be looking into every option.

From now til January, we can continue to bitch about this stuff. And it's up to the press (yeah, right) and we noisemakers to draw attention to Administration efforts to ram unfavored policy down our throats. But starting in two months, this kind of thing is on the Congressional Democrats. We gave them a role. They should act it out. Aggressively.

We want our country back, they want their jobs. Both sides need to keep the bargain.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Toast said...

Completely agree, and restoring habeus corpus has to be Job One. There's nothing more important than that, no more fundamentally damaging thing Bush has done. Habeus is the difference between living in a just society or not.

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

This one of those situations when the symbol is more important than the reality.

As we know, a successful habeus petition basically results in a procedural appeal. The petitioner (the habeus or "body" in question) gets to appear before the bench to determine if his detention satisfies basic due process: notice, opportunity to be heard, notions of fair play.

That's it. One can imagine that in any climate, let alone America, Version 0.6, the chances of vindication on the merits are nearly zero.

But, it's symbolic. Everyone is equal before the law (even non-citizens, because damn it, why do we want to deny them?), everyone gets his day in court, everyone gets treated fairly.

If we're gonna throw the book at terrorists (and for fuck's sake, we should), shouldn't we want to know they got a fair shake, and then were found guilty and jailed, extradicted, executed, whatever?

Frankly, it boggles my mind why anyone would be against this.

9:59 AM  
Blogger George said...

Completely agree with you on this one. I mean, if people are guilty, try them and prove it. That means there's justice. That's what America is supposed to be about.

12:43 PM  
Blogger DED said...

I'll second toast's comment.

5:37 PM  

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