Of the original 10 amendments to the Constitution of 1787 - IV, V, VI, VII and VIII are directed at arrest, trial and punishment. The bill passed by the Senate yesterday, and already rubber stamped by the house, effectively repeals all of these Amendments, because it allows a class of people declared by executive fiat to be treated in a manner which is separate from the rest of the judicial system.
But in this case, the President is asking that we expand the definition of an enemy combatant. It isn't just people we capture on the battlefield anymore. It might be your next door neighbor who is in this country legally. And this legislation would allow them to be taken into custody without being told charges or seeing evidence or having access to lawyers and without hearings. That is a very strong use of the American power against people who are here legally.
Johnson offers the hope that the spirit of the Constitutional guarantees will be observed when American citizens are involved, and he suggested that the bill should have a sunset provision so that Congress can review whether the Bill of Rights was abused or ignored. And he states that the bill will eventually have to stand challenge in the Supreme Court.
That is a lot of comfort. One of the most devastating aspects of the Military Tribunal Bill is that it takes the appeal process away from the courts and makes them relevant at the whim of the president. With the mental acuity and motives demonstrated by the president currently in power, that should scare the bejesus out of us--including Sen. Johnson and Rep. Herseth.One of our correspondents has pointed out that the country is so focused on insurgents and the atrocities committed daily in Iraq and, now, Afghanistan that it does not see that true American democrats are being given more reasons everyday why an insurgency of some kind in America may be necessary to preserve the human rights our country stands for. Hopefully, that insurgency will be in the form of a challenge that reaches the Supreme Court. We hope our preservation of the Bill of Rights will not rest upon our exercise of our Second Amendment rights.
May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006