June 12th, 2008, 12:09 PM #1
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Supreme Court: Terrorist Suspects Have RightsWASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.
In its third rebuke of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court's liberal justices were in the majority.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."
Kennedy said federal judges could ultimately order some detainees to be released, but that such orders would depend on security concerns and other circumstances.
The White House had no immediate comment on the ruling. White House press secretary Dana Perino, traveling with President Bush in Rome, said the administration was reviewing the opinion.
It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than 6 years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The ruling could resurrect many detainee lawsuits that federal judges put on hold pending the outcome of the high court case. The decision sent judges, law clerks and court administrators scrambling to read Kennedy's 70-page opinion and figure out how to proceed. Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth said he would call a special meeting of federal judges to address how to handle the cases.
The administration opened the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to hold enemy combatants, people suspected of ties to al-Qaida or the Taliban.
The Guantanamo prison has been harshly criticized at home and abroad for the detentions themselves and the aggressive interrogations that were conducted there.
The court said not only that the detainees have rights under the Constitution, but that the system the administration has put in place to classify them as enemy combatants and review those decisions is inadequate.
The administration had argued first that the detainees have no rights. But it also contended that the classification and review process was a sufficient substitute for the civilian court hearings that the detainees seek.
In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts criticized his colleagues for striking down what he called "the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants."
Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also dissented.
Scalia said the nation is "at war with radical Islamists" and that the court's decision "will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."
Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens joined Kennedy to form the majority.
Souter wrote a separate opinion in which he emphasized the length of the detentions.
"A second fact insufficiently appreciated by the dissents is the length of the disputed imprisonments, some of the prisoners represented here today having been locked up for six years," Souter said. "Hence the hollow ring when the dissenters suggest that the court is somehow precipitating the judiciary into reviewing claims that the military ... could handle within some reasonable period of time."
The court has ruled twice previously that people held at Guantanamo without charges can go into civilian courts to ask that the government justify their continued detention. Each time, the administration and Congress, then controlled by Republicans, changed the law to try to close the courthouse doors to the detainees.
The court specifically struck down a provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that denies Guantanamo detainees the right to file petition of habeas corpus.
Habeas corpus is a centuries-old legal principle, enshrined in the Constitution, that allows courts to determine whether a prisoner is being held illegally.
The head of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents dozens of prisoners at Guantanamo, welcomed the ruling.
"The Supreme Court has finally brought an end to one of our nation's most egregious injustices," said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren. "By granting the writ of habeas corpus, the Supreme Court recognizes a rule of law established hundreds of years ago and essential to American jurisprudence since our nation's founding."
In addition to those held without charges, the U.S. has said it plans to try as many as 80 of the detainees in war crimes tribunals, which have not been held since World War II.
A military judge has postponed the first scheduled trial pending the outcome of this case. The trial of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's one-time driver, had been scheduled to start June 2.
Five alleged plotters of the Sept. 11 attacks appeared in a Guantanamo courtroom last week for a hearing before their war crimes trial, which prosecutors hope will start Sept. 15.
Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said he had no immediate information whether a hearing at Guantanamo for a Canadian charged with killing a U.S. Special Forces soldier in Afghanistan would go forward next week as planned. Omar Khadr is one of 19 detainees so far facing the first U.S. war-crimes trials since the World War II era.
Bush has said he wants to close the facility once countries can be found to take the prisoners who are there.
Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama also support shutting down the prison.
(Meanwhile, the British House of Commons narrowly passed a law suspending habeas corpus, causing the Conservative shadow Home Secretary to resign from Parliament in disgust. At least we have a Constitution.)The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell
June 12th, 2008, 01:00 PM #2
What's next? We must seek court approval before firing at enemy combatants on the battlefield?
The Supreme Court has exceeded its jurisdiction, even according to its own precedent. A previous ruling, as i understand it, holds that US courts have no jurisdiction on prisoners held overseas, including by the military.
How can a group of judges claim any constitutionality in extending constitutional protections to - not only non-Americans - but foreign enemies captured on the battlefield? I want to see where in the constitution they can point to that yields constitutional protections to non-citizens who are attacking the US. This is ridiculous.Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress, but just terrible things.
June 12th, 2008, 04:29 PM #3
The problem here cyphen is that some of these prisoners were not captured on the battlefield attacking the US. They were taken from homes, businesses, etc based on information that the military had that they were dangerous to the USA.
So I am in my house, the military busts in and takes me based on some info they have. Now I sit in a military prison based on info that may or may not be factual. I was not a combatant in the normal sense of the word. The "war" we are fighting against terrorists is changing and we need to be able to adapt with it. Don't you think it validates alot of the horrible things said about the US when we treat our, possibly innocent, prisoners like this?
Don't make silly slippery slope statements, like the one about consulting the courts about firing on combatants. Thats not what this is about. If everyone in Guantanamo was arrested on a battlefield firing weapons at our troops, then this wouldn't be necessary, but they weren't. We need to step up to the plate here, give these people their due process and punish or release them as needed.
June 12th, 2008, 07:44 PM #4
Great. The left wind judges have created a new category of citizenship for our enemies: Honary Americans!Obama: "If you like your Ebola, you can keep your Ebola!"
June 12th, 2008, 08:09 PM #5
Maybe the judges are just asking Americans to do a couple things. One, stand up and show other countries that we are in fact not the horrible country the Bush Administration has made the world think and two that we can in fact stil maintain our civility and Constitution in the face of these terrorist attacks.
June 12th, 2008, 08:12 PM #6
Why didn't they try these guys, railroad them, put them back in their cells and forget about ???
Now, we have The Supreme Court ruling and are stuck with it. In the words of Lou Dobbs
This Administration never ceases to amaze me.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOtab0BKOGY
The Nation which forgets it's defenders will itself be forgotten
You cannot make peace with dictators. You have to destroy them–wipe them out!
June 12th, 2008, 10:38 PM #7
The Supreme Court ruled today [June 28, 2004] in two cases regarding anti-terrorism legislation and the rights of prisoners and "enemy combatants." The court decided that suspected terrorists must be allowed access to the American justice system to contest their detention. Washington Post
What the court did was affirm that habeas corpus, which is guaranteed in the Constitution, cannot be stripped from an individual by either the President nor Congress.
What does it mean practically? It means that we can't hold people without trial or charges. The only people that don't like this decision are those that have no faith in our system of justice and courts. I'm not affraid that if these people are guilty of something, a court will find them guilty.
Last edited by MTAtech; June 12th, 2008 at 10:43 PM.Conservatives: "If the facts disagree with our opinion, ignore the facts -- or at least misrepresent them."
June 13th, 2008, 12:41 AM #8
right... because our justice system is so often correct! People rarely get off on small details... never see THAT on the news. What this ruling did was extend constitutional protections to foreign enemies that don't even fight under a state regulated military.
Additionally, i'm referring to an older ruling, MTA... i don't recall what it is... i'll see if i can get more info on it... but it was in place prior to the War on Terror.
Also, this ruling stripped the military of one of its functions.
Undead - have any examples of people we've snatched out of homes and thrown in Gitmo? Do you have any doubt that all of these people are guilty? Would you like to see them be released so they can go kill again? Or go assist those who kill us? Because now any federal judge can do just that. I'm certain the ACLU will take any of their cases pro-bono, too.Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress, but just terrible things.
June 13th, 2008, 07:47 AM #9
On the radio this morning the 5 judges who voted for this are getting the title of , "Jihad 5".
June 13th, 2008, 08:06 AM #10
Next, in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, the SCOTUS ruled that courts have jurisdiction over these cases and further ruled that the a bill passed to strip the courts of jurisdiction was improper.
This is the third rebuff of the Administration's attack on the rule of law and is consistent with history. As far as courts having correct decisions, I have more faith in impartial civilian courts than I do in military tribunals where evidence can be excluded and the judges are subject to the chain of command.
I couldn't have said it better myself:[this decision is] “a rejection of the Bush administration’s attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantánamo” ...“yet another failed policy supported by John McCain.”
“This is an important step toward re-establishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus. Our courts have employed habeas corpus with rigor and fairness for more than two centuries, and we must continue to do so as we defend the freedom that violent extremists seek to destroy.” -- Barack Obama
Last edited by MTAtech; June 13th, 2008 at 08:15 AM.Conservatives: "If the facts disagree with our opinion, ignore the facts -- or at least misrepresent them."
June 13th, 2008, 10:18 AM #11The Khaled Masri case
Main article: Khalid El-Masri
In 2003, Khalid El-Masri, a Kuwait-born citizen with German nationality, was detained by Macedonian agents in the Republic of Macedonia. While on vacation in Macedonia, local police, apparently acting on a tip, took him off a bus, held him for three weeks, then took him to the Skopje airport where he was turned over to the CIA.
El-Masri says he was injected with drugs, and after his flight, he woke up in an American-run prison in Afghanistan containing prisoners from Pakistan, Tanzania, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. El-Masri said that he was held five months and interrogated by Americans through an interpreter. He declared that he had been beaten and kept in solitary confinement. Participating in some of these interrogation sessions was an officer of the German foreign intelligence service (Bundesnachrichtendienst assassination before he was withdrawn in early February 2006, possibly to prevent the repercussions of his identification. or BND) using the pseudonym "Sam", who has reportedly been identified by al-Masri as Gerhard Lehmann. Lehmann served on the UN Mehlis commission into the Rafik Hariri
Then, after his five months of questioning, he was simply released. "They told me that they had confused names and that they had cleared it up, but I can't imagine that," El-Masri told ABC News. "You can clear up switching names in a few minutes." Khalid el-Masri had allegedly been confused with Khalid al-Masri, wanted for contacts with the Hamburg Cell involved in the September 2001 attacks.
Khalid el-Masri was then flown out of Afghanistan and dumped on a road in Albania, from where he made his way back home in Germany. Using a method called isotope analysis, scientists at the Bavarian archive for geology in Munich subsequently analyzed several strands of his hair and verified his story. During a visit to Washington, German Interior Minister Otto Schily was told that American agents admitted to kidnapping El-Masri, and indicated that the matter had somehow got out of hand. Masri was held for five months largely because the head of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center's al Qaeda unit "believed he was someone else," one former CIA official said. "She didn't really know. She just had a hunch."
Khalid el-Masri's case has been given as an example of so-called "erroneous renditions," meaning extraordinary renditions of completely innocent people. Although the "confusion" was admitted to Germany's then-Interior Minister Otto Schily, the CIA tried to keep the specifics of Masri's case from becoming public. The German government was requested by the CIA not to disclose what it had been told (even if el-Masri went public), on fears that this might expose the covert extraordinary rendition program, and thereby open up legal challenges. Some CIA officials have argued that Guantanamo Bay has become, as one former senior official put it, "a dumping ground" for CIA mistakes.
A German prosecutor is investigating Masri's claims of kidnapping and torture, yet the branch of the German government which was informed has remained silent on the subject. Masri's attorneys have filed a lawsuit in U.S. courts. On January 31, 2007, Munich Prosecutor Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld said he had issued 13 arrest warrants connected with rendition of Khalid El-Masri from Macedonia.
The Abu Omar case
Main article: The Imam Rapito affair
On 17 February 2003, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr (aka "Abu Omar") was kidnapped by the CIA in Milan (Italy), and deported to Egypt. His case has been qualified by Swiss senator Dick Marty to be a "perfect example of extraordinary rendition". In June 2005, Italian judge Guido Salvini issued a warrant for the arrest of 13 persons said to be agents or operatives of the CIA. In December 2005, an Italian court issued an European arrest warrant against 22 CIA agents suspected of this kidnapping (including Robert Seldon Lady, Eliana Castaldo, Lt. Col. Joseph L. Romano, III, etc.). The CIA hasn't commented on the case, while Berlusconi's government has denied any knowledge of a kidnapping plot. Just after the 2006 Italian general elections, Roberto Castelli (Lega Nord), outgoing Justice Minister, declared to Italian prosecutors that he had not passed the extradition request to the US.
Furthermore, Marco Mancini, the SISMI director of anti-terrorism and counterespionage, and Gustavo Pignero, the department's director in 2003, have been arrested, on charges of complicity in a kidnapping with the aggravating circumstances of abuse of power. There are now 26 EU arrest warrants for U.S. citizens in connection to this event. A judge also issued arrest warrants for four Americans, three CIA agents and an Air Force officer who commanded the security forces at Aviano Air Base at the time of the abduction.
On February 17, 2003, CIA agents allegedly kidnapped Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, as he walked to his mosque in Milan for noon prayers. Omar was flown to Egypt for interrogation in the frame of the US extraordinary rendition program. His family and friends claim he was tortured. At the time of his disappearance, Italian police were investigating allegations that Nasr had tried to recruit jihadists. Prosecutor Guido Salvini said the abduction was illegal because it violated Italian sovereignty, while also disrupting an ongoing police investigation.
On December 6, 2005, the Washington Post reported Italian court documents which showed that the CIA tried to mislead Italian anti-terrorism police who were looking for the cleric at the time. Robert Seldon Lady, the CIA's substation chief in Milan, has been implicated in the abduction. In a written opinion upholding the arrest warrant, judge Enrico Manzi wrote that the evidence taken from Lady's home "removes any doubt about his participation in the preparatory phase of the abduction." Robert S. Lady however, alleged that the evidence has been gathered illegally, and has denied involvement in the abduction. Photos of Robert (Bob) Lady and other defendants recently have surfaced on the Web.
On February 12, 2007, Mr Nasr's lawyer said he had been released and was back with his family.
The Maher Arar case
Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, aged 34 in 2005, was detained at Kennedy International Airport on 26 September 2002, by US Immigration and Naturalization Service officials. He was heading home to Canada after a family holiday in Tunisia. After almost two weeks, enduring hours of interrogation chained, he was sent, shackled and bound, in a private jet to Jordan and then Syria, instead of being extradited to Canada. There, he was interrogated and tortured by Syrian intelligence. Maher Arar was eventually released a year later. He told the BBC that he was repeatedly tortured during 10 months' detention in Syria — often whipped on the palms of his hands with metal cables. Syrian intelligence officers forced him to sign a confession linking him to Al Qaeda. He was finally released following intervention by the Canadian government. The Canadian government lodged an official complaint with the US government protesting Arar's deportation. On September 18, 2006, a Canadian public enquiry presented its findings entirely clearing Arar of any terrorist activities. In 2004 Arar filed a lawsuit in a federal court in New York against senior U.S. officials, on charges that whomever sent him to Syria knew he would be tortured by intelligence agents. US Attorney GeneralJohn Ashcroft, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and FBI Director Robert Mueller are all named in the lawsuit.. On October 18, 2006, Arar received the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies for his ordeal. On October 18, 2007, Maher Arar received apologies from the U.S. House of Representatives. Nevertheless, U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, who also apologized, stated that he would fight any efforts to end the practice.
- A Pakistani newspaper reported that in the early hours of October 23, 2001 a Yemeni citizen, Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, a 27-year-old microbiology student at Karachi University, was spirited aboard a private plane at Karachi's airport by Pakistani security officers.
- In October 2001, Mamdouh Habib, who lives in Australia and has both Australian and Egyptian nationality (having been born in Egypt), was detained in Pakistan, where he was interrogated for three weeks, and then flown to Egypt in a private plane. From Egypt, he was later flown to a US airbase in Afghanistan. He told the BBC that he did not know who had held him, but had seen Americans, Australians, Pakistanis, and Egyptians among his captors. He also said that he had been beaten, given electric shocks, deprived of sleep, blindfolded for eight months and brainwashed. After signing confessions of involvement with al-Qaeda, which he has now retracted, Mr Habib was transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He was released without charge in January 2005. Former Pakistani Interior Minister Makhdoom Syed Faisal Sawleh Hayat told in an interview by the Australian current affairs programme Dateline that Mr Habib was linked with the "terrorist element" operating at that time. However, he contradicted himself a few minutes later, in the same interview, saying that Habib had been assumed guilty because he was in the restricted province of Baluchistan without proper visa documents.
- In 2002, captured Al Qaeda leader Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was rendered to Egypt where he was allegedly tortured. The information he provided to his interrogators formed a fundamental part of the Bush administration case for attacking Iraq, alleging links between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Al-Libi later recanted his story and it is generally believed that his stories of contact between the Saddam Hussein regime and Al-Qaeda were fabricated to please his interrogators.
- Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery, two Egyptians who had been seeking asylum in Sweden, were arrested by Swedish police in December 2001. They were taken to an airport and put on an executive jet with American registration N379P with a crew of masked men. Within hours, they were flown to Egypt, where they were imprisoned, beaten, and tortured. A Swedish diplomat visited them several weeks later. Agiza was charged with being an Islamic militant and he was sentenced to 25 years. Al-Zery wasn't charged, and after two years in jail he was sent to his village in Egypt.
- In March 2002, Abou Elkassim Britel, an Italian citizen with Moroccan origins, was arrested in Pakistan and subsequently interrogated by Pakistani and US officials. He was then rendered to Moroccan authorities, detained and torture in a secret detention center in Temara. He was finally released without any charges brought against him, before being rearrested in May 2003 at the border crossing of the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa. He is currently imprisoned in Äin Bourja prison in Casablanca after having been sentenced to nine years in January 2004 for membership of a subversive organisation and for activities including the holding unauthorised meetings. This in spite of conclusions in September 2006 by Italian Justice, after a five years investigation, that there was "an absolute lack of grounds of evidence of charge which may be used in trial" and that the suspicion motivating the inquiries had proved unfounded. Nonetheless, allegations in the Italian press and the judicial proceedings that were underway in Italy influenced court proceedings against Britel in Morocco that led to him being sentenced. MPs from Italy and from the European Parliament are set to ask the Moroccan Royal Cabinet to grant a pardon to the Italian citizen According to the European Parliament Temporary Committee on the Alleged Use of European Countries by the CIA for the Transport and the Illegal Detention of Prisoners headed by rapporteur Giovanni Claudio Fava, documents demonstrated that "the Italian judicial authorities and the Italian Ministry for Home Affairs (the latter, acting on behalf of the Direzione Centrale della Polizia di Prevenzione cited in connection with the investigation by the Divisione Investigazioni Generali ed Operazioni Speciali) cooperated constantly with foreign secret services and were well aware of all Britel's movements and whatever unlawful treatments he received, from the time of his initial arrest in Pakistan."
- In 2003, an Algerian named Laid Saidi was abducted in Tanzania and taken to Afghanistan, where he was imprisoned and tortured along with Khalid El-Masri. His detention appears to have arisen through a mistranslation of a telephone conversation, in which U.S. officials believed he was speaking about airplanes (tairat in Arabic) when he had in fact been speaking about tires (tirat in Arabic).
- Binyam Mohammed, an Ethiopian student who lived in London, was apprehended in Pakistan in April 2002. He allegedly spent three years in "black sites," including in Morocco and Afghanistan. He was supposed to be part of a plot involving José Padilla. The Observer reported: "He went to Pakistan in June 2001 because, he says, he had a drug problem and wanted to kick the habit. He was arrested on 10 April at the airport on his way back to England because of an alleged passport irregularity. Initially interrogated by Pakistani and British officials, he told Stafford Smith: 'The British checked out my story and said they knew I was a nobody. They said they would tell the Americans." He was deprived of sleep by having heavy rock music played loudly throughout the day and night.
- In late 2001 Saddiq Ahmad Turkistani was freed by US forces from a Taliban prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan. At a news conference he told reporters and U.S. officials he had been wrongly imprisoned for allegedly plotting to kill Osama bin Laden. He was then taken to a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, where he was stripped, bound and thrown behind bars. According to U.S. lawyers who represent him, in January 2002 he was sent to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Nearly four years later, Turkistani remains there, despite being cleared for release early 2005 after a government review concluded he is "no longer an enemy combatant." It is unclear exactly when that determination was made, but Justice Department lawyers gave notice of it in an October 11 court filing. According to a June 26, 2006 press release from the Saudi Arabian embassy, Turkistani was released from Guantanamo to Saudi custody
- On 5 April 2006, Amnesty International released details of the United States' system of extraordinary rendition, stating that three Yemeni citizens were held somewhere in Eastern Europe.
June 13th, 2008, 10:24 AM #12
We may just release them to Afghanistan and Iraq for trial there. The President is not obligated to obey the Supreme Court on this one people.
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The Constitution of The United States of America does not confer any rights to foreign nationals.
There are no rights given to enemy combatants captured on foreign soil. There are no laws written by Congress (the authority to write laws) granting any special rights to these people.
Anyone care to prove me wrong? Show it to me in the Constitution, you will have a long search because it is not there. It confers upon the President of the United States the power to deal with foreign matters.
Once again left wing crap attempts to destroy the meaning of the Constitution because of who is President. Blind as hell, incapable of defending a nation.
Once again a little lesson.
The Constitution exists for the sole purpose of protecting individual rights of this nations citizens.
One evidence of this being an idiotic decision, How do you give these people a trial by a jury of their peers?
They are violating Presidential authority and the President should fight them before congress. Right after he turns these people over to the governments where they were captured. Justice will then be served when they are executed.
Nice try with the Bull Shit article Gomer, it truly is ridiculous what you post as evidence.
Last edited by Sarah L; June 13th, 2008 at 10:27 AM.
June 13th, 2008, 10:44 AM #13
June 13th, 2008, 11:29 AM #14
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Former British Conservative Prime Minister John Major has an Op-Ed in today's London Times:42-day detention: the threat to our liberty
The Government's plan is simply part of an assault on our ancient rights
The Government's legislation to permit 42 days pre-charge detention brings to the fore the wider question of civil liberties. In their response to the security threat ministers have dragged us ever closer to a society in which ancient rights are seriously damaged. I doubt this is the Government's intention, but it is the effect. It began with Iraq.
The invasion of Iraq was justified by overegging the threat of Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction - perhaps that error was genuine.
But the case for war was embellished by linking the Iraqi regime to the 9/11 attacks on New York - for which there is not one shred of evidence. As we moved towards war, that misinformation was compounded by the implication that Saddam's Iraq was a clear and present danger to the United Kingdom, which plainly it was not.
These actions damaged our reputation overseas. And, at home - on the back of the threat of terror and two serious incidents in London - they foreshadowed a political climate in which civil liberties are slowly being sacrificed.
We now know that, despite repeated denials, our Government was complicit in rendition, or - to put it in plain terms - the transfer of suspects out of civilised jurisdiction to a place where they could be held without charge for a lengthy period.
Although the intention was presumably to garner information, such action is hardly in the spirit of the nation that gave the world Magna Carta, or the Parliament that gave it habeas corpus.
I don't believe that sacrifice of due process can be justified. If we are seen to defend our own values in a manner that does violence to them, then we run the risk of losing those values. Even worse, if our own standards fall, it will serve to recruit terrorists more effectively than their own propaganda could ever hope to.
That is no longer theoretical: we now have home-grown terrorists - born in Britain, not in Waziristan. Will they be encouraged or discouraged to rally to militancy if we bypass the sober rituals of law with which we are familiar?
The Government has introduced measures to protect against terrorism. These go beyond anything contemplated when Britain faced far more regular - and no less violent - assaults from the IRA. The justification of these has sometimes come close to scaremongering.
After terrorist attacks on London, Parliament doubled the time that suspects could be held without charge from 14 days to 28 days. Probably, that was justified. But soon Parliament will be asked to increase detention without charge to 42 days. To appease opposition, the Government is cobbling together face-saving compromises. If the measure is passed, it will be a pyrrhic victory that owes more to political survival than principle. Even so, it is hard to justify: pre-charge detention in Canada is 24 hours; South Africa, Germany, New Zealand and America 48 hours; Russia 5 days; and Turkey 7½ days.
There is no proof that an extended period of 42 days would have prevented past atrocities. There is no evidence it will prevent future atrocities. No example has yet been given of why the police need more than 28 days to frame a charge. This is a slippery slope. Assertions that it “might be useful” simply will not do. If we are to curtail the liberty of the individual, we must have more certainty than that.
But it is not only the case for 42 days detention that is bogus. So is the case for identity cards. They were to be voluntary. Now it is clear that they will be compulsory. Yet the Government has admitted that such cards would not have stopped the London bombers. Nor will they cut illegal immigration, since asylum-seekers have been obliged to carry ID cards for nearly eight years. Nor will they have any real impact on benefits fraud, as this is typically caused by misrepresentation of financial resources rather than by identity.
The Government has been saying, in a catchy, misleading piece of spin: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” This is a demagogue's trick. We do have something to fear - the total loss of privacy to an intrusive state with authoritarian tendencies.
This is not a United Kingdom that I recognise and Parliament should not accept it.
Nor do I believe that anyone can defend another government innovation: a national identity register containing the DNA of tens of thousands of people who have never been charged with an offence. Under present legislation, DNA can be retained permanently for even minor misdemeanours, such as being drunk. A total of more than four million samples are already on the UK database - far more than in any other country. This includes tens of thousands of children, and a disproportionate number of black men. If this is accepted, it will one day go farther. This cannot be right: for me, it is all uncomfortably authoritarian.
So is a society in which the right to personal privacy is downgraded. These days a police superintendent can authorise bugging in public places. A chief constable can authorise bugging our homes or cars.
The Home Secretary can approve telephone tapping and the interception of our letters and e-mails. All of this is legal under an Act passed by the Labour Government. None of this requires - as it should - the sanction of a High Court Judge. Francis Pym once spoke of the democratic deficit of any government having too large a majority. He was right. In a Parliament with a more balanced representation, the undermining of personal privacy, lengthy detention before charge, identity cards and a DNA register would have never been passed.
I understand - and sympathise with - the complex dilemmas of security and crime that face the Government. But, while I understand their motives, their remedies are too stringent and not wise.
No one can rule out the possibility of another atrocity - but a free and open society is worth a certain amount of risk. A siege society is alien to our core instincts and - once in place - will be difficult to dismantle. It is a road down which we should not go.
Sir John Major was Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997. In 1991 the IRA tried to bomb him and his Cabinet as it met in Downing Street.The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -- James Branch Cabell
June 13th, 2008, 11:33 AM #15
Osama bin laden learned that his phone conversations were being listened to due to the discovery phase of a trial in civilian court - due to handling terrorism as a law enforcement issue. The very next day after the evidence was revealed in court, the ability to continue listening to OBL's phone calls was lost forever.
You rail against the secret evidence, but offer no acknowledgement for the need of its secrecy.
The military must have full and exclusive access to its prisoners captured during war. For reasons of intel and national security.Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress, but just terrible things.
June 13th, 2008, 11:33 AM #16
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June 13th, 2008, 11:54 AM #17The President is not obligated to obey the Supreme Court on this one people.
[The Constitution of The United States of America does not confer any rights to foreign nationals.
There are no rights given to enemy combatants captured on foreign soil. There are no laws written by Congress (the authority to write laws) granting any special rights to these people.Anyone care to prove me wrong? Show it to me in the Constitution,
What scares the hell out me is that the above military person is sworn to defend the Constitution but apparently has no understanding of the Constitution.
Originally Posted by cyphen
Last edited by MTAtech; June 13th, 2008 at 12:02 PM.Conservatives: "If the facts disagree with our opinion, ignore the facts -- or at least misrepresent them."
June 13th, 2008, 12:04 PM #18
June 13th, 2008, 12:29 PM #19
June 13th, 2008, 12:49 PM #20
Uhh... no, diode... it stands for what it was stated as... a military man's view.
MTA - the constitution is the constitution of the United States - not the world. It's inferred that all rights contained therein apply to citizens of the united states unless specifically stated otherwise.
Additionally, the amendment refers to the fact that they shall not be held for ... wait for it.... a crime. The people in Gitmo are not there for criminal acts... but as enemy combatants in acts of war. We are at war. It's not "the police action against terror" or "the legal indictment of terror". These are enemy combatants.
Some of the people have been released from Gitmo already, and many of them have gone on to continue killing people. The people held at Gitmo have gone through many levels of verification by the military. They are there for a reason. Giving people who are hell bent on destroying us constitutional civilian protections and rights is the most ludicrous decision ever forced upon the american people. Our nation was just weakened. Our security was just put at risk. Our efforts against terrorism were just made more difficult. Our enemies just cheered.
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