Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Penultimate Nail in Our Coffin

Just a short while ago a U.S. District Court of Appeals drove the penultimate nail into the coffin in which reposes a weakened, damaged, almost unrecognizable arm of American Jurisprudence: The right of all peoples to challenge their detention in an American jail, as long as we Americans are deceitful enough, devious enough, dishonest enough and, yes, evil enough to locate those prisons outside the geographic borders of America and then pass laws that disposes wholesale with the internationally accepted right of all persons to challenge their imprisonment and their now internationally accepted premise that no one may be "disappeared" by executive fiat, never to be seen again.

There is, perhaps, a common misunderstanding among some Americans as to whom our Constitution was written to protect. Some take the rather narrow viewpoint that the document only protects Americans or foreigners being held within the contiguous borders of America. I think this viewpoint is wrong, for otherwise it would be that Americans outside the borders of America would also sacrifice their rights under the constitution. Consider these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

It has always been my belief that this specific phrasing, chosen carefully, was intended to provide constitutional protections to everyone with whom America has contact, even tangentially, as ALL men are created equal, not just our citizens but ALL the citizens of the world, and that, therefore, a higher, more just world view was compelled and Americans rightfully held to a higher standard. A standard that for over two-hundred years made America a beacon of hope for all the world.

Everyone in the world now knows that American ideals of justice have been perverted beyond recognition and that America has become an ongoing criminal enterprise spreading violence and destruction under the pretense of "installing democracy at the barrel of a gun", kidnapping and rendering people to other countries for torturing, codifying torture into American Law, a president ordering extra-judicial executions, a president who may now "disappear" anyone he so chooses with no appeal, no trial, no courts to determine guilt or innocence, and now, finally, the right of habeas corpus to compel the government to justify why a suspect is being held is almost lost forever.

Only the Supreme Court stands between retaining American Jurisprudence as it has always been, or changing it forever.

The U.S. District Court of Appeals has ruled:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 that civilian courts no longer have the authority to consider whether the military is illegally holding foreigners.

Barring detainees from the U.S. court system was a key provision in the Military Commissions Act, which Bush pushed through Congress last year to set up a system to prosecute terrorism suspects.

The ruling is all but certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court, which last year struck down the Bush administration's original plan for trying detainees before military commissions.…

Civil libertarians and leading Democrats decried the law as unconstitutional and a violation of American values. The law allows the government to indefinitely detain foreigners who have been designed as "enemy combatants" and authorizes the CIA to use aggressive but undefined interrogation tactics.
The sham is over. In the eyes and in the judgment of the world America has lost her way. Will it last forever?

Will the Supreme Court stop the abominations? The world watches and waits.

1 comment:

Edger said...

The IHT (International Herald Tribune) out of Paris, France, today gives us a hint of the European reaction building toward this decision:

Bush administration officials praised the decision, while lawyers representing detainees strongly disagreed, saying they would again seek a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Twice before, the Supreme Court has ruled that federal courts may consider habeas corpus petitions by the Guantánamo Bay detainees. In response to those decisions, Congress has twice rewritten the law in an attempt to limit the avenues of appeal by the detainees.
"This decision empowers the president to do whatever he wishes to prisoners without any legal limitation as long as he does it off shore, and encourages such notorious practices as extraordinary rendition and a contempt for international human rights law," said Shayana Kadidal, a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents many of the detainees.

Democrats now in control of Congress said they would move quickly on legislation that would unambiguously give federal courts the right to consider habeas petitions by detainees.

The outrage will build rather quickly, I think. As scribe commented today over at Talkleft about German radio reports already being aired:

...they're not happy.

Their radio folks are much too restrained to run around screaming with their hair on fire, but they're giving their analog in their hourly news.

Expect big international repercussions tomorrow.

futhark expressed my feelings perfectly there as well:These rights belong to all people, not just American Citizens and not just on American soil. When our government moves to deny any person habeas corpus rights or the right to a swift trial, it is undermining the basis of our society. Well, to use a word that we don't hear much anymore, such action is subversive of our traditions and values and the proponents need to be labeled for what they are: totalitarian anti-Americans.

Fear makes people crazy...