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June 20, 2002
7:42 AM   Subscribe

"It's not just that you have no right to a lawyer, it's that you have no right to even have a hearing," he said. "If that is true, then there is really no limit to the President's power to label U.S. citizens as bad people and then have them held in military custody indefinitely." Okay, someone please tell me that's not as scary as it sounds.
posted by donkeyschlong (37 comments total)

 
You're next!
posted by nofundy at 7:47 AM on June 20, 2002


Eek!

We laugh now ... heh.
posted by donkeyschlong at 7:49 AM on June 20, 2002


Be thankful, it's only the president who has that power. And only temporarily. In my country, the police themselves are equipped to decide who will be held indefinitely or not.
posted by timyang at 7:55 AM on June 20, 2002


That's not new in singapore and malaysia. People can be detained indefinitely under the Internal Security Act if that is deemed in the interests of the country's security.
posted by c/j at 7:58 AM on June 20, 2002


Thankful be damned, timyang. We did not come by these rights and freedoms easily, they do not just spring more lushly from American soil. They were hard-won, and shall be hard-defended.
posted by rushmc at 7:58 AM on June 20, 2002


Right on, rush. This is pretty horrifying. Total secrecy involving foreign nationals is already a little dodgy, but if they can start eliminating our basic constitutional rights as US citizens flat-out, then all the paranoia about a police state starts to ring true.
posted by donkeyschlong at 8:05 AM on June 20, 2002


Whoohoo. Finally some outrage. After being bludgeoned on these very fora for months about being anti-American and unwilling to do the dirty work of keeping the peace, things are finally getting ugly enough that people are noticing. Maybe now the average citizen will get to the point that they will be willing to at least stand against the executive juggernaut in November.
posted by shagoth at 8:19 AM on June 20, 2002


If you'd read the article, you'd find that so far the courts have ruled that the president does not have the power to do this.

The Justice Department is appealing, and is trying to grab that power. But I don't think the courts will allow this. It's too blatantly unconstitutional.
posted by straight at 8:39 AM on June 20, 2002


If you'd read the article, you'd find that so far the courts have ruled that the president does not have the power to do this.

Obviously I did read the article. We're just discussing the prospect. Don't be such a condescending poop.
posted by donkeyschlong at 8:42 AM on June 20, 2002


You're right, scholong, I'm sorry. The spell-checker for MeFi ought to automatically tag the words "if you [had/would] read the article" and pop up a window that says, "Do you really want to be a condescending poop [Y/N]?"

And you're right that it's probably not to early to be outraged that the Justice Dept. is trying to get away with this. I'm just pretty sure they won't.
posted by straight at 8:49 AM on June 20, 2002


(It's all good straight. :)
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:05 AM on June 20, 2002


"First, let's round up all calico cat owners, then we'll arrest all nude statues." -Asscroft :)
posted by nofundy at 9:33 AM on June 20, 2002


That raises an interesting question: is it appropriate to become outraged/concern when the executive branch (or any other, for that matter) merely TRIES for an outrageous power grab, or should we wait to express same until they actually succeed? Some here seem to often argue the latter, but isn't the fact that they WANT to do these things condemnation enough?
posted by rushmc at 9:34 AM on June 20, 2002


While I'll certainly agree that when applied to US citizens, that's pretty scary....

If you don't go around shooting army, navy, marine, cia, fbi, or secret service personel....you're probably ok.

On the other hand, if your neighbor, lets call him bob, decides to go to afghanistan and fight the good fight (against the US), and is captured by US forces - do you really think he deserves a "fair trial" ? If it comes to that, maybe we'll just stop capturing people and kill them outright.

It's not a black and white issue, that's for sure, but I'd be inclined to say that US citizens that take up arms against our armed forces have given up their citizenship and all of the rights that come with it...
posted by jaded at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2002


Be thankful, it's only the president who has that power. And only temporarily.

And my first action, after receiving this temporary power, will be to build a clone army.
posted by bobadoci at 9:56 AM on June 20, 2002


Be thankful, it's only the president who has that power. And only temporarily.

And my first action, after receiving this temporary power, will be to build a clone army.
posted by bobadoci at 9:56 AM on June 20, 2002


so, the right to trial isn't so much a right as a privilege of citizenship?
posted by tolkhan at 10:08 AM on June 20, 2002


Gawd, bobadoci, that's the funniest comment I've read in Metafilter in a long time. Funny because it's so freakin' on target.
posted by Holden at 10:31 AM on June 20, 2002


This thread evolved into a discussion on this subject.

I'm not calling double-post; I just figured it'd be better to link than to repeat myself. Besides, riviera said it better anyway
posted by ook at 10:53 AM on June 20, 2002


but it's only bad people :) no worries!
posted by kliuless at 11:46 AM on June 20, 2002


if your neighbor, lets call him bob, decides to go to afghanistan and fight the good fight (against the US), and is captured by US forces - do you really think he deserves a "fair trial" ?

If your neighbor, let's call her "Sue," decides to go into a surburban mall and mow down thirty shoppers with an Uzi, and is captured by the local police--do you really think she deserves a "fair trial?"
posted by rushmc at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2002


If your neighbor, let's call her "Sue," decides to go into a surburban mall and mow down thirty shoppers with an Uzi, and is captured by the local police--do you really think she deserves a "fair trial?"

Strangely enough, this happened to me. Except my neighbor wasn't named Sue, her name was Mitch. And it wasn't a mall, it was a steakhouse. And it wasn't an uzi, it was a block of provolone cheese. But still.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:01 PM on June 20, 2002


On the other hand, if your neighbor, lets call him bob, decides to go to afghanistan and fight the good fight (against the US), and is captured by US forces - do you really think he deserves a "fair trial" ?

Do you have to deserve a fair trial to get one in this country? Is there something in the constitution that says traitors, or people accused of being traitors don't get fair trials?

Captured enemy soldiers aren't POWs if we call them something else, and American citizens become "enemy combatants" if the government is afraid to run the risk of trial. Which character in Animal Farm do you think President Bush is most like, Napolean or Squealer?
posted by norm29 at 1:10 PM on June 20, 2002


On the other hand, if your neighbor, lets call him bob, decides to go to afghanistan and fight the good fight (against the US), and is captured by US forces - do you really think he deserves a "fair trial" ?

Let's generalize that, and ask:

If your neighbor, lets call him [your neighbor's name], decides to [do something the government doesn't like], and is captured by [the authorities] - do you really think he deserves a "fair trial"?
posted by RylandDotNet at 1:31 PM on June 20, 2002


Didn't they send Napoleon to the glue factory?
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:32 PM on June 20, 2002


If your neighbor, let's call her "Sue," decides to go into a surburban mall and mow down thirty shoppers with an Uzi, and is captured by the local police--do you really think she deserves a "fair trial?"

Cart before horse, rushmc. Your example boils down to "people who are guilty don't need a fair trial." True enough. But the point of a fair trial to to determine if a person is guilty or innocence. Until you know which the suspect is, you can't really go around talking about what they do and don't "deserve". It's like saying "Milk that has gone bad shouldn't be smelled or tasted." Yeah, obviously. But unless you enjoy coming home from the supermarket and immediately throwing away your milk unopened, you gotta figure out if it's bad somehow. (That was the lamest analogy I could come up with on short notice.)

Let's take another person. Let's call him Jose Padilla. Let's say the government alleges that he was planning to do this and that and the other, but no one outside of those seeking to prosecute him (or not prosecute him, as the case may be) know any of specific charges against him. Sure: if he's guilty he doesn't deserve a fair trial. But to establish he's guilty you gotta do more than just presume it. You gotta prove it. At a trial. That's how I see it.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 1:42 PM on June 20, 2002


(Okay, I'm an ass. I now see that you, rushmc, were responding to something jaded wrote. So my whole post is actually a response to jaded's statement "I'd be inclined to say that US citizens that take up arms against our armed forces have given up their citizenship and all of the rights that come with it")
posted by Shadowkeeper at 1:47 PM on June 20, 2002


Your example boils down to "people who are guilty don't need a fair trial."

You misread my point, Shadowkeeper. I was trying to illustrate to jaded why his example was flawed by providing an analagous one. Clearly, the parties in both cases deserve and are entitled to fair trials.
posted by rushmc at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2002


I now see that you, rushmc, were responding to something jaded wrote.

Heh...no problem.
posted by rushmc at 1:49 PM on June 20, 2002


My point was not that someone shouldn't get a fair trial. But I don't think the whole American "Trial by Jury of Peers" thing applies to people that were fighting a war against. See, their peers would clearly be in their favor. And I think the same applies to someone that (hypothetically) leaves the country to go fight *for* the other side.

The problem with trying prisoners of wars, is that they're not, for the most part, responsible. They're "just doing their job". It's assholes like Bush and Co. that are responsible for determining what the job is. I mean, what do you try them for? The murder of american soldiers? Wouldn't our soldiers be subject to the same thing?

I don't know. it's all turning into a muddled mess in my mind. I thank the great space fairy that I don't have to be the one to decide such things. I'm going to go stick my head in the sand now.
posted by jaded at 2:58 PM on June 20, 2002


I think the scare factor is that because Bush Inc. can lob these guilt grenades sans public accountability, it becomes a de facto way to take out anyone they choose.

--What have I done?
--Sorry, we can't tell you.

SLAM.

There goes the Magna Carta. I mean Constitution.
posted by donkeyschlong at 3:22 PM on June 20, 2002


Did I miss something? Was there a public revocation of "innocent until proven guilty" before this? I thought we were still doing that...
posted by NortonDC at 6:38 PM on June 20, 2002


Nope, new regime, thought they'd toss out the 200-year-old system and try something new.
posted by rushmc at 7:50 PM on June 20, 2002


Am I the only one who sees shades of 1984 every where? How far is it from where we are now, to many vague ministries tasked with our security (e.g., Homeland...)? An indefinite war on a vague front about which we receive vague reports, but which doesn't seem real? Limitations on our personal freedoms and increasingly intrusive surveillance (recent chipper article about using credit reports to profile fliers)? Is constant monitoring through our TV sets far away? How soon before Joe and Sue become Winston and Julia?
posted by zia at 10:11 PM on June 20, 2002


"Am I the only one who sees shades of 1984 every where?"

Sadly, no. No, not at all.
posted by CrayDrygu at 10:28 PM on June 20, 2002


But I don't think the whole American "Trial by Jury of Peers" thing applies to people that were fighting a war against

see, this is the problem: we've blurred the line between "military" and "law enforcement." generally, in a war, you take your prisoners and you stash them somewhere safe until the war's over, and then you send them home. no trial involved, unless there were war crimes... but what if you're fighting a war on war crimes? isn't that what the war on terrorism amounts to?

is a bomb-planting suicide-piloting terrorist to be considered a 'combatant?' or is he just a criminal? and are his comrades with the AK-47s really combatants? or are they criminals too, by association?

i guess this is what comes of calling our wars "police actions."
posted by hob at 7:24 AM on June 21, 2002


Here I go again....

All these actions are being justified because of the "war on terra." Well, the way I understand our legal system is....

"Special War Powers" can be invoked ONLY if there is a FORMAL declaration of WAR. This is accomplished ONLY by the CONGRESS (note, NOT the President.) Until that happens the Executive branch is acting WAY out of bounds here.
These declarations of "we're at war" to justify revoking our basic rights are no more than ill informed statements and carry no weight LEGALLY, only with the pea brained considerations of the ignorant ones listening to AM hate radio hype.

Kinda like hob said, call it a "police action", not a war.
posted by nofundy at 8:23 AM on June 21, 2002


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