Sunday, January 02, 2005

Killing Due Process

To their credit, Senators Richard Lugar (R-In) and Carl Levin (D-Mi) have come out in opposition to Pentagon and CIA requests for the White House to develop a permanent approach for indefinitely detaining suspected terrorists they are unwilling to set free or turn over to US or foreign courts for trial. Included among these "suspected terrorists" are hundreds of people currently in US custody for whom the government lacks evidence to charge in courts.
We've been here before with this Administration. In its zeal to pursue the "war on terror" it has been eager to not just trample on but to eliminate the concept of due process for those it has arrested or detained, here or on foreign soil, American or foreign, under suspicion of committing or aiding those who have committed or would commit acts of aggression or terrorism against the US. Last summer's Supreme Court decisions against the Administration in the Hamdi and Padilla cases seems to have done nothing to discourage Bush's people from their pursuit of unreviewed lifetime detentions or cause them to rethink just how such a concept fits in with our Bill of Rights.
According to the Washington Post story, "As part of a solution, the Defense Department, which holds 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, plans to ask Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence," and have "no more intelligence to share."
On Fox News Sunday, Lugar had this to say of the Administration's scheme, "It's a bad idea. So we ought to get over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look at this." Earlier, California Representative Jane Harmon, vice chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee, had said, "I think there should be a public debate about whether the entire system should be so secret." Levin, also appearing on Fox News Sunday, said, in opposition to the plan, "There must be some modicum, some semblance of due process . . . if you're going to detain people, whether it's for life or whether it's for years."
I wonder how the "moral values" crowd feels about things like this. I wonder if they think it's okay to set aside two hundred and thirty years of hard won safeguards against government excess in the name of expediency in waging this so-called war. When our President says "freedom is on the march" and the Fighting 101st Keyboarders praise our President's middle east crusade, I wonder how they factor in actions like this. Is freedom at home negotiable? For everybody, or just for those dusky foreigners?
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