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American Citizens Held 2 Years Without Trial

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am talking about the 2 American citizens picked up for terrorism. There is one guy of Puerto Rican descent, picked up for planning to plant a dirty bomb in the US. The other, born in America of Saudi parents, was captured in Afghanistan. For 2 years they have been kept in solitary confinement and stripped of their Constitutional rights. Now, I usually side with Bush and most conservative matters, but this is one time when I cannot agree with the Bush administration. These men should be afforded the same rights as all American citizens.They should be charged with a crime, given the right to see their counsel, and given a fair trial by a jury of their peers.

What does everyone else think?
post #2 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by RatCatcher
I am talking about the 2 American citizens picked up for terrorism. There is one guy of Puerto Rican descent, picked up for planning to plant a dirty bomb in the US. The other, born in America of Saudi parents, was captured in Afghanistan. For 2 years they have been kept in solitary confinement and stripped of their Constitutional rights. Now, I usually side with Bush and most conservative matters, but this is one time when I cannot agree with the Bush administration. These men should be afforded the same rights as all American citizens.They should be charged with a crime, given the right to see their counsel, and given a fair trial by a jury of their peers.

What does everyone else think?
As a member of Amnesty International and of PETA I'm shocked and outraged that these men were denied their basic human rights and their natural right as members of the animal kingdom to not be treated cruelly. Do you have any more info on this? If you do I'd like to let Amnesty International know about it.
post #3 of 16
Amnesty International knows the cases well. These are the Padilla and Hamdi cases, which finally wound their way into the Supreme Court just a couple of days ago. At the argument before the court the Bush administration took the position, as it always has, that all it takes is for the president to declare a person, even a US citizen, to be "an enemy combatant" and they may be locked away in solitary confinement, denied access to family, friends, counsel and judges, without any criminal charges being brought. No judicial oversight of any kind is afforded -- neither civil nor military. No right of habeas corpus -- the most fundamental right we see in the Constitution -- so the imprisoned citizen cannot even have the basic question of whether or not he or she is in fact "an enemy combatant" inquired into by an impartial third party.

This is horribly shocking. If on the word of the president alone this can be done to Padilla and Hamdi then it can be done to me -- and it can be done to you -- it can be done to any one of us. It can be done in secret, and, nobody ever need be told that it was done.

Before the Supreme Court the administration's lawyer went so far as to say that a person can be held in this manner so long as we are engaged in "a war on terror." In response to a question from a member of the court he responded that if this war lasts forever than a person can be held without charges or access to other persons "forever." The Bush administration offered no compromise.
post #4 of 16
Yep, this is the sort of thing that makes me want to move to Sweden.

Sometimes I think Dean Koontz does have good points :P
post #5 of 16
If you do, we understand that there is a fine Turkish Van cattery in Sweden.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Well said, James. You sound just like a lawyer.
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by RatCatcher
Well said, James. You sound just like a lawyer.
Please don't hold it against him, Ratcatcher. He was once upon a time very proud to be one. Now we are ashamed that so few members of his profession have made a public commitment to fundamental human liberties when they are under such a great assault in our country today. We are so pleased that you have done so on this forum, and we are proud to share this forum with you.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Brown
Amnesty International knows the cases well. These are the Padilla and Hamdi cases, which finally wound their way into the Supreme Court just a couple of days ago. At the argument before the court the Bush administration took the position, as it always has, that all it takes is for the president to declare a person, even a US citizen, to be "an enemy combatant" and they may be locked away in solitary confinement, denied access to family, friends, counsel and judges, without any criminal charges being brought. No judicial oversight of any kind is afforded -- neither civil nor military. No right of habeas corpus -- the most fundamental right we see in the Constitution -- so the imprisoned citizen cannot even have the basic question of whether or not he or she is in fact "an enemy combatant" inquired into by an impartial third party.

This is horribly shocking. If on the word of the president alone this can be done to Padilla and Hamdi then it can be done to me -- and it can be done to you -- it can be done to any one of us. It can be done in secret, and, nobody ever need be told that it was done.

Before the Supreme Court the administration's lawyer went so far as to say that a person can be held in this manner so long as we are engaged in "a war on terror." In response to a question from a member of the court he responded that if this war lasts forever than a person can be held without charges or access to other persons "forever." The Bush administration offered no compromise.
I, for one, am horribly embarrassed and dismayed by this treatment of any "enemy combatants", regardless of their citizenship. I'd always assumed that the same rights applied to anyone detained for any reason, but I was obviously wrong about that. Perhaps Jim can offer some clarification. If a foreign national commits a homicide with "special circumstances" on U.S. soil, that person can be given the death penalty, even if his/her native country doesn't have the death penalty. While I realize that Hamdi and Padilla, as U.S. citizens, stood a better chance of their cases being heard by the Supreme Court, I find it difficult to believe that many people in the U.S. agree that they should be granted their rights, but that Afghans, Syrians, Turks, Brits, etc., etc., shouldn't. People forget that xenophobia works in both (all?) directions. I'm a U.S. citizen who has lived almost half her life in Germany, and who travels in other European countries. If I were to be arrested in one of those countries, I would fully expect to be detained, charged, etc., according to the rules pertaining to citizens of that country. What if the legal authorities simply said, "Nah, she's a U.S. citizen, so we don't have to bother with charging her, seeing that she has legal counsel, offering proof in a preliminary hearing, etc. Just lock her up."?? Isn't that what the Bush administration is doing?
post #9 of 16
I think the focus should not simply be on the American citizens but also all other people held under the term 'enemy combatants.'

However, I can understand the government's fear that any legal proceeding may result in the leak of sensitive information. But I don't see why the judicial proceedings cannot be held in camera thus the public and the press are not allowed access. And if the enemy combatant is given a right to select a lawyer to represent him, either the lawyer could be sworn to secrecy or if there is extremely sensitive information about to be presented and the state do not want to chance that the lawyer might leak it, then an ex parte proceeding could be held without the lawyer present.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
I'd always assumed that the same rights applied to anyone detained for any reason, but I was obviously wrong about that. Perhaps Jim can offer some clarification.
jcat:

As usual, you have put your finger right on one of the significant issues in the "enemy combatant" cases.

There are other "enemy combatant" cases finding their way into the judicial system, many of which were taken on the field in Afghanistan, and most, if not all the others, are nationals of countries other than the U.S., including the UK and Australia. Hamdi and Padilla are distinct, however, in that they are both citizens of the U.S. Between themselves they differ in that one was captured overseas, and the other was arrested here in his own country, the USA.

Therefore Hamdi and Padilla squarely raise the issue of the rights, if any, of citizens of the U.S. who George Bush has unilaterally, in no way governed, declared to be "enemy combatants," and, as a subset, they raise the issue of whether there is a distinction based upon where they were seized.

The larger issue you touch upon, whether certain, some, most, or all U. S. constitutional rights depend upon U.S. citizenship remains to be addressed. So, the court has the "easier" cases before it, but do not be surprised to see a distinction made between the two cases based upon where they were apprehended.

In brief, in the Hamdi case the court has before it the issue of whether our Constitution provides for due process of law, whatever that is, to Hamdi, a U.S. citizen apprehended while arguably engaging in armed combat against the U.S. in a foreign country.

In the Padilla case, on the other hand, the court is faced with perhaps the easier issue of a U.S. citizen apprehended in the U.S. but declared by the president to be an "enemy combatant."

Of course if the court decides that either Hamdi or Padilla are entitled to (certain?) constitutional protections, that does not dispose of the question of apprehended citizens of other countries declared by Bush to be enemy combatants. The position of the Bush administration is that the Bill of Rights and other individual liberties within the basic text of the Constitution do not in any case apply to noncitizens.

This is in the face of provisions in our Constitution like the 5th Amendment, which provides that "NO PERSON ... shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;..." It does not say "no citizen;" it says "no person."

This larger question must await the case of a noncitizen held in the Guantanamo naval prison moving upstairs into the appellate judicial system. Splits on this question are seen in the U. S. Courts of Appeals, and the issue will have to be decided by the Supreme Court, unless it sidesteps the question, which the current court is adept at doing.

I hope this helps somewhat. Thank goodness there are those like you who focus on what is happening in our country.

Cheers,
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
In view of what James, JCat and others have said, I could join the French Foreign Legion and if France and America went to war and I was captured as an enemy combatant, I could be put away for life with and lose all rights. When I was a kid, all I ever wanted to do was run away and join the French Foreign Legion. Think about the all the books and movies about the French Foreign Legion. They were always the good guys. Now, I wonder who the good guys really are? Anyway, that is food for thought. Maybe James could answer it. If you join a foreign army like the FFL, do you lose your citizenship?
post #12 of 16
jcat,

We are sure that you have noticed the parallels between this thread and the other active thread having to do with the apparent abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military and, it now comes out, contract jailors. One simply cannot separate the two issues.

The 8th Amendment to our Constitution provides that cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted. Of course it does NOT say that they "shall not be inflicted upon noncitizens."

The position of the administration in the "enemy combatant" cases is that our Bill of Rights do not apply to U. S. citizens declared by Bush to be enemy combatants, nor, IN ANY CASE, to noncitizens of the U.S. Therefore it is inescapable that the administration's position is that noncitizens held in the now infamous prison in Iraq may have "cruel and unusual punishments" inflicted upon them without any Constitutional impediment.

That is, the administrations's position is that any humanitarian privileges held by noncitizen prisoners in that Iraqi prison, as in the prison in Guantanamo, are limited to those bestowed upon them by the graciousness of our Chief Executive, with absolutely no congressional or judicial oversight. Furthermore, the administration has time and time again ruled that the protections of the Geneva Convention do not apply to these prisoners.

When all this is known by the jailors of the Iraqi prisoners, how fair is it that Bush promises that "the wrongdoers will be punished"? Who are the wrongdoers, when the President of the United States has publicly stated that these prisoners have no rights? Where does the buck stop?

We say that it stops in the White House and goes through the Pentagon enroute.

Cheers,
post #13 of 16
jcat:

Drastic booboo -- change the second paragraph of my just previous post to read:

"The 8th Amendment to our Constitution provides that cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted. Of course it does NOT say that they 'shall not be inflicted upon citizens.'"

What a difference three little letters make -- "NON."
post #14 of 16
I am totally disgusted by this. It's what a lawyer would call a "slippery slope". If we can hold "enemy combatants" without any rights, who decides who is an enemy combatant. Someone we believe is working with terrorists? Someone who speaks out against the government? Me? It's too frightening to even think about what could happen (or can happen) when one person or governmental body is given that much unchecked power.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cla517
If we can hold "enemy combatants" without any rights, who decides who is an enemy combatant?
Cheryl,

The worst of it is that our administration says that ONE PERSON makes this determination, with no checks or balances from the congress or the courts -- the Commander-in-Chief -- President George W. Bush -- ONE MAN. There is no provision, absolutely none, for a person to prove to an impartial third party that she was, for example, in the wrong place at the wrong time -- and we all know that this sometimes happens.

As you so correctly observe -- you could be next. And perhaps nobody would know about it.

This is tyranny.

All the best, from
post #16 of 16
Jim, thank you so much for the explanation. And I agree with your definition - it is tyranny, and isn't that the current justification for invading Iraq? Removing a tyrant? I wonder how many civil liberties will be sacrificed to national security before people start making comparisons with McCarthyism?
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