Constitutional ?

  1. If you trust President Bush to decide who has no access to justice could you have trusted his predecessor? Any future President?,7294356.story

    'Enemy Combatants' Cast Into a Constitutional Hell
    By Andrew P. Napolitano
    Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, practices law in New Jersey and is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News.

    June 27, 2003

    President Bush has declared Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri of Peoria, Ill., an enemy combatant.
    Al-Marri was arrested shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, and indicted by a federal grand jury for lying to FBI agents about the dates he traveled in the U.S. and the dates he made certain telephone calls and for possession of false credit cards. When he refused to cooperate with the Justice Department in its investigation of terrorism, as is his right, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft asked a court to dismiss the indictment against him, which it did; asked President Bush to declare Al-Marri an enemy combatant, which he did Monday; and then whisked Al-Marri under cover of darkness from a federal holding facility in Chicago to a Navy brig in South Carolina.

    Al-Marri could languish there for the rest of his life without ever having been convicted of a crime. He has no access to family, friends or lawyers, and he may never see a judge, a jury or a prosecutor. Under this administration's interpretation of the law, it's possible that he won't be charged, tried or convicted, and all the while he'll be held in solitary confinement.

    The president-using standards not legislated by Congress, not approved by any court and never made known to the public-has claimed the right to incarcerate enemy combatants until the war on terrorism is over. But when will that be?

    The president has also floated a plan to try enemy combatants before secret panels of American soldiers whenever he wants to-such as in Cuba, where he claims the U.S. Constitution doesn't apply.

    What's going on here? An end run around the Constitution.

    The administration has done this before. Yaser Esam Hamdi, a 19-year-old American arrested in Afghanistan near a field of battle but without a weapon, and Jose Padilla, a 25-year-old American arrested at O'Hare Airport in Chicago after meeting with Muslim clerics in Pakistan, have both been declared enemy combatants.

    In Hamdi's case, the U.S. Court of Appeals, after a partly secret argument, agreed that he could not see a lawyer. In Padilla's case, a federal district judge ordered the government to let him speak with his lawyer, but the government has refused to do so and has appealed. In both cases, the government made the ludicrous argument that because neither Hamdi nor Padilla was charged with a crime, neither was entitled to a lawyer.

    In all three of these cases, the government relies for support on a misunderstood U.S. Supreme Court decision rendered in the World War II Quirin case. The court allowed President Roosevelt to arrest, charge and try before a military tribunal eight German soldiers who made it to our shores. The eight were, the court declared, enemy combatants because they were uniformed soldiers of a foreign government on which the U.S. had declared war.

    Nowhere in the Quirin opinion did the court say the president had blanket authority to declare anyone an enemy combatant at the request of the attorney general. Nowhere did the court say the president could indefinitely lock up anyone who didn't cooperate with the Justice Department.

    In fact, Quirin actually stands for the very opposite than that which the government claims: It says all persons in this country are entitled to basic due-process rights. The danger of the government's arguments in support of its policy of punishment by fiat cannot be overestimated.

    The government wants to disregard-even avoid-the Constitution itself. It has told lower federal courts that the president is not required to reveal his reasons for designating a person an enemy combatant and that his actions in doing so are not reviewable in any court. If that were so, it would stand American constitutional law on its head.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has held countless times that all persons confined by the government are presumed innocent until proven guilty, must be told the reasons for their confinement and are entitled to challenge those reasons promptly in a court. And the Supreme Court has also held countless times that it has power to review and to void all acts of the Congress and the president.

    For more than 200 years, judicial review, by which the courts enforce the Constitution's guarantees against the wishes of reluctant prosecutors, has been the salvation of our freedoms.

    The very core of American history, law and culture condemns the ideas of punishment before trial, denial of due process and secret government by fiat.

    We have tried the likes of Timothy McVeigh and Charles Manson, Al Capone and O.J. Simpson, Tokyo Rose and the Rosenbergs. So who is an enemy combatant? Not John Walker Lindh, who fought alongside the Taliban. Not Zacarias Moussaoui, who the government says helped plan the 9/11 attacks. Not Lyman Faris, who allegedly plotted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. The Constitution protected their rights.

    Who is an enemy combatant? Today, it can be anyone the president wants.

    And that is terrifying.
  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
  4. by   pickledpepperRN
    Any constitutional scholars here?
    Does an inmate lose freedom of speech?
    How about a person at work? What if a store employee tole someone they could buy the item for le$$ at another store?

    What about on unpaid break time?
    Published on Friday, July 4, 2003 by the Tallahassee Democrat
    Celebrate America - by Questioning Where it's
    by Bill Berlow

    On this Fourth of July, please take a few moments to ponder what this country is supposed
    to be about: the freedom to question.

    No doubt William "Bud" Combs will.

    Combs, 59, is a retired Tallahassee teacher and Air Force veteran. If all went according to
    plan, today he'll celebrate his first full day of independence - freedom - in three months.

    He was expected to arrive here by bus last night after his scheduled release from the federal
    prison camp at Eglin Air Force Base. Combs was sentenced to 90 days for trespassing
    during a peaceful protest last November at Fort Benning, Ga., home of the controversial
    program formerly known as the School of the Americas.

    Combs crossed a line during a demonstration against the school (renamed the Western
    Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation) that trains friendly Latin American military and
    police forces. He knew he might wind up in prison. That's the possible price of civil

    What the veteran peace activist didn't know was that he would spend eight days of his
    sentence in solitary confinement at the nearby Santa Rosa County Jail. His apparent
    offense: receiving and sharing with other inmates what federal authorities consider disruptive,
    if not subversive, political literature.

    The offending "propaganda" included commentary by such extremists as Bill Moyers and
    Ellen Goodman, and included an article published in Reader's Digest. The common thread
    was that they all questioned the wisdom of government policy.

    According to his friends and lawyer, Combs has never before been in trouble with the law.
    The following is an excerpt from Moyers' article, a sample of the commentary that Combs
    shared with fellow inmates. It's part of what Combs believes resulted in his punishment.

    "Every Memorial Day I think about what these (D-Day veterans) did and what we owe them.
    They didn't go through hell so Kenny Boy Lay could betray his investors and workers at
    Enron, or for a political system built on legal bribery. It wasn't for corporate tax havens in
    Bermuda, or an economic system driven by the law of the jungle, or so a handful of media
    buccaneers could turn the public airwaves into private sewers. ...

    "Democracy is about doing better. It's about fairness, justice, human rights and, yes, it's
    about equality, too: Look it up."

    Inmates don't have the same rights that the rest of us have, and maintaining order in a prison
    is obviously trickier than it is in free society. But Combs and the written opinions he shared
    don't exactly add up to the equivalent of Lenin distributing the Communist Manifesto to
    inspire a prison revolt.

    "It's not like he's a subversive," said Tallahassee resident Bill Carroll, a fellow peace activist
    and longtime friend of Combs. "He couldn't be more patriotic."

    After authorities told Combs he was under investigation, Carroll said, "They told him he was
    not allowed to contact anyone. They shackled him and hauled him off."

    According to Combs, he's been questioning authority for more than 30 years. While
    stationed in South Korea with the Air Force in 1970, he wrote, he wore a black armband to
    protest the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the killings at Kent State.

    A June 15 letter that Combs wrote said authorities still hadn't told him details about why he'd
    been sent to solitary. Written on the blank side of a printout of Moyers' commentary, the
    letter said only that Combs' prison counselor told him unofficially that the offense involved
    "receiving and distributing political propaganda."

    "Many of the articles questioned and/or criticized policy and decisions of the Bush
    administration. However, all were freely expressed and published in a 'free' society," Combs
    wrote. "I guess the (U.S. Bureau of Prisons) has a regulation against freedom of speech and
    freedom of the press. Can they do that?"

    When I spoke to Combs by telephone Tuesday, he knew no more than he did when he wrote
    that letter to our mutual friend.

    Bill Quigley, a New Orleans law professor who's representing Combs, said he sought an
    explanation from prison officials, but was told with no elaboration that the investigation was
    closed. A Bureau of Prisons spokesman told me that, while he wouldn't provide details
    either, there were "appropriate circumstances" that warranted Combs' treatment.

    Quigley said he expected to pursue the matter further once his client was free.

    Quigley wants to know whether prison officials acted within the law. The broader question
    these days is what we value more: our freedom or our "security."

    Security is crucial. But the founding fathers knew that freedom, above all, is ultimately what
    sets America apart, what makes our nation special. The Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791,
    remains one of history's most revolutionary documents.

    "It's very important to continue to speak truth to power," Combs said Tuesday. "Question the
    government and its decisions. ... It is our right in a democratic society to do that."

    So, on this 227th anniversary of a truly radical idea, let the freedom to question and criticize
    ring. For Bud Combs and all Americans.
  5. by   fab4fan
  6. by   jnette
    Originally posted by spacenurse
    "It's very important to continue to speak truth to power," Combs said Tuesday. "Question the
    government and its decisions. ... It is our right in a democratic society to do that."

    So, on this 227th anniversary of a truly radical idea, let the freedom to question and criticize
    ring. For Bud Combs and all Americans.
    How sad, indeed. Wow. We go to fight for these same rights in other lands, right? I don't get it. Is this hypocrasy or not..?
  7. by   pickledpepperRN
    Many Americans want us to retain our constitutional rights!

    Published on Saturday, July 5, 2003 by
    130 U.S. Communities Saying No to Repression
    by Jim Lobe

    WASHINGTON - More than 130 communities with a combined population of more than 16
    million people in 26 states have passed resolutions directing local police to refrain from using
    racial profiling, enforcing immigration laws, or participating in federal investigations that violate
    civil liberties, according to a new report released on the eve of this year's Fourth of July
    celebrations by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    The 23-page report credits Ann Arbor, Michigan, with adopting the first resolution opposing key
    provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, thus setting off a trend that shows no sign of abating.

    "In my conversations with people from across the political spectrum, I hear one refrain over and
    over," says Laura Murphy, who heads the ACLU's Washington, D.C. legislative office. "If we
    give up our freedoms in the name of national security, we will have lost the war on terrorism."

    "As this year's Fourth of July rolls around, we hope that this report will demonstrate to the
    White House, the Justice Department and Congress that we must be both safe and free."

    The ACLU, whose local offices played a major role in support of dozens of resolutions around
    the country, stressed that among the jurisdications that have taken action are a number of
    traditionally conservative areas of the country, such as Oklahoma City, Missoula, Montana;
    and Flagstaff, Arizona.

    Some of the larger cities include Denver, Colorado; Oakland and San Francisco, California;
    Seattle, Washington; Detroit, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Baltimore, Maryland.
    Three states have also adopted measures that call for strict respect for constitutional rights:
    Hawaii, Alaska, and Vermont.

    The report, 'Independence Day 2003: Main Street Fights the Federal Government's Insatiable
    Appetite for New Powers in the Post 9/11 Era,' says the burgeoning grassroots movement was
    launched after demands by Attorney General John Aschroft were agreed to by Congress,
    which, it charges, "encouraged an atmosphere of hysteria," by approving the USA PATRIOT
    Act in late October 2001 with little debate and few dissenting votes.

    The Act included a number of controversial provisions that, in the ACLU's view, upset the
    balance between the citizen's privacy and political rights and the state's responsibility to
    ensure the security of the country.

    Some of those provisions included expanding the power of the secret Foreign Intelligence
    Surveillance Act; approval of "sneak and peek" warrants which allow federal agents to enter
    private homes without notifying the owner until much later; weakening the standards for
    intelligence wiretaps by permitting them to be used for criminal invstigations under some
    circumstances; and making it easier for federal agents to obtain highly personal "business
    records," such as library loan records, of possible terrorist suspects.

    The Act itself was followed up with a flurry of executive orders, regulations, policies and
    practices, such as denying the right to a fair trial for citizens and non-citizens labeled "enemy
    combatants" and establishing military commissions that fall short of minimum due process
    standards, which further eroded civil liberties protection, according to the ACLU.

    On January 7, 2002, Ann Arbor became the first city in the country to pass a resolution in
    direct response to the PATRIOT Act and new federal policies. "We're very concerned about
    civil rights and the about the potential discrimination," City Councilwoman Heidi Herrell told
    ABC News at the time. "We spent a lot of time since September 11 making sure that the
    Muslim members of our community felt safe."

    Denver became the second city to approve a resolution after the ACLU there discovered the
    existence of 3,400 secret files on social activists that had been collected by the Denver Police
    over several years. That resolution called for the police not to gather information on individuals'
    First Amendment activities unless the information related to criminal activity and the subject
    was suspected of engaging in criminal activity.

    The movement has gathered steam. In February, 2003, alone, 22 communities passed
    resolutions affirming civil liberties, while the three states have all acted in the last three

    The momentum behind the resolution movement has drawn the increasing ire of the Justice
    Department, according to the report. Ashcroft himself recently acknowledged public fears
    about the possibility for abuse of the PATRIOT Act and called on the media to help the Justice
    Department explain it. It has also enlisted Republican lawmakers in an effort to oppose local

    "This report just goes to show the importance of local activism," Murphy said. "Although the
    Attorney General and his staff have said that this movement is but a flash in the pan, the fact
    that they'd take the time to actively work to defeat these things speaks volumes about their
    political importance."

    The movement has not only involved local governments. Librarians are refusing to cooperate
    with federal authorities, and dozens of state library associations have passed their own
    anti-PATRIOT Act resolutions. In Congress. Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has introduced
    the "Freedom to Read Protection Act" which would exempt libraries and bookstores from the
    Act. The bill currently has 122 co-sponsors, and California Sen. Barbara Boxer has introduced
    a companion bill in the Senate.

    "Nothing is more precious in a democracy than freedom of speech and free access to
    information without government intrusion," the report asserts. "The American people seem to
    understand that, even if Attorney General Ashcroft does not."
  8. by   renerian
    I really am not surprised. Alot goes on behind the scenes in every county that it's citizens do not know about.

  9. by   pickledpepperRN
    We have just had an admission that a statement in the State of the Union speech was either a lie OR the President didn't check his facts.
    Any president of any party could do the same.

    SO- Do you trust our Constitutional freedoms to a decision by ONE person?
  10. by   Mkue
    The US government knew before 9/11 that Al-Qaeda was after America. It also knew the general profile (age, race, country of origin, etc.) of these terrorists. And yet it did nothing to stop it. Even after 9/11, profiling isn't allowed because backlash from the USA Patriot Act. It allowed for detention of many innocent Muslims for no reason. This quickly became a scandal as the liberal media spun it out of control. It swayed the American public so far to the left that they were valuing civil liberties much more than security. Profiling was now disallowed because the Republican administration didn't want to seem racist and alienate its constituency. Politics allowed the shoebomber to get past security and almost blow up a plane.


    I prefer profiling rather than taking the risk of having a plane blown up. That's just my opinion.
  11. by   roxannekkb
    This quickly became a scandal as the liberal media spun it out of control.
    How can depriving innocent people of their Constitutional rights ever be spun out of control? I would say the exact opposite, that all of this secrecy and investigations and arrests of people for the vaguest of reasons--and most times not even told why they're arrested--is actually getting far less attention than it should be.

    And isn't it just a little odd how all of this information about al queada, the planned attacks and so, just happened to slip through the hands of all of our intelligence groups. These are the Repubs, who you feel are so good at security. But then, that's another can of worms, how the gov't is dragging its feet when it comes to investigating 9/11. It almost seems like they've got something to hide...
  12. by   gwenith
  13. by   gwenith
    The whole David Hicks thing is not going down well with the general public over here and is DEFINITELY not doing anything to improve your public image.

    General comment is "Oh well America is returning to the McCarthy era!"
  14. by   pickledpepperRN
    Originally posted by gwenith
    The whole David Hicks thing is not going down well with the general public over here and is DEFINITELY not doing anything to improve your public image.

    General comment is "Oh well America is returning to the McCarthy era!"
    Should either international law or the Constitution apply?

    Seems we (US citizens) have people held without being charged with a crime IN OUR NAME. Very upsetting.
    I think most Americans would not want innocent people held without rights if only they knew.

    The specially picked questions (in the link) don't convince a thinking person that muslims should be profiled.

    1. Who shot and killed from the tower at U of Texas?
    2. Who was convicted of killing MLK?
    3. Who tried to assasinate President Ford?
    4. Who shot President Reagan?
    5. Who was convicted of the Oklahoma City bombing?
    8. Who is accused of the Olympic park abd clinic bombings that killed?

    Question again:
    Would you have trusted the previous President, the current President, and ALL future Presidents with the decision to hold a person without being charged with a crime? No access to an attorney? Not even informing the family?
    Last edit by pickledpepperRN on Jul 12, '03