Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Are we at war with Eurasia or Eastasia today?

A US citizen is arrested in Chicago and held prisoner for years. He is never charged with any crime, and so his case never goes before a jury. It sounds like something out of 1984, but it is a real case currently before a federal appellate court.

Jose Padilla was arrested at a Chicago airport in May 2002, on suspicion of planning to detonate a "dirty bomb," a conventional bomb laced with radioactive material. President Bush declared Padilla an "enemy combatant," a designation created by Bush that allows the military to hold someone indefinitely without charges. Since then, for three years, Padilla has been held in the Navy brig in Charleston, SC.

A South Carolina judge ruled that the government must charge Padilla with a crime or release him, a decision appealed by the Bush Administration to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The question they must decide is whether Padilla, an American seized on U.S. soil, should have been designated an enemy combatant. "I may be the first lawyer to stand here and say I'm asking for my client to be indicted by a federal grand jury," Padilla's lawyer, Andrew Patel, told a three-judge panel of the court.

The US Constitution says:
Amendment V:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Perhaps, having achieved the Presidency in a manner which was questionable at best, Bush now intends to do away with the Constitution. Since his election, half the amendments which constitute the Bill of Rights have been severely weakened (#1, 4, 5, 6, 10), with others (#2) already crippled by previous administrations. He has certainly ignored or weakened other amendments as well (#12, 14). Is his plan eventual nullification of amendment 22? With solid Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and possibly as many as 3 appointments to an already-agreeable Supreme Court, are we headed for a new King George?

Tags: , , , ,

No comments: