Fri., May 9, 2003
Consider something, for a moment:
As I write these words, and as you will later read them, those of us who are Americans are living in a country where the "President" now claims the power to arbitrarily designate anyone an "enemy combatant" and essentially drop them down a deep, dark hole forever. The "anyone" in that formulation is held to be absolute; it includes anyone anywhere in the world. The "enemy combatant" designation--a wholly made-up category that doesn't exist anywhere in our constitutional scheme of government--is entirely arbitrary, and there is no appeal of it. No lawyers. No courts. No rights. Those in the administration claim the power to stage a Stalinist-style show-trial and even kill you in secret, or just forget the pretense and leave you down in that hole until you die without ever having a legal hearing of any kind or coming in contact with another living soul.
That's pretty awful stuff. You wouldn't be able to find an analog to these sorts of powers outside of the worst Third World mockery of a government anywhere on this planet.
Those in the Bush administration not only claim these powers--they claim they are plenary; innate in the presidency itself, and not subject to challenge.
They've, in fact, kidnapped and held an American citizen for a year now under these assumed powers. Yesterday marked the 1st anniversary of the arrest of Jose Padilla a.k.a. Abdullah Al Muhajir.
Padilla was arrested in Chicago, and, at the time, the degenerate maggot currently infesting the office of U.S. Attorney General assured us that "in apprehending Al Muhajir as he sought entry into the United States, we have disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot to attack the United States by exploding a radioactive 'dirty bomb.'" Within only hours, the Justice Department was backing away from this position, and, by the next morning, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was telling the press "I donít think there was actually a plot beyond some fairly loose talk..." It subsequently emerged, in the government memo rationalizing the "enemy combatant" designation, that even that "loose talk" occured only according to "confidential" sources which the government conceded, in print, were unreliable.
On the basis of "some fairly loose talk" from unreliable sources, Padilla--an American citizen, arrested on U.S. soil, no less--has been deemed an "enemy combatant," kidnapped by the Bush administration, and locked in an isolation cell in the Charleston Naval Station 24 hours a day for nearly a year now. No official charges, no hearings, no evidence, nothing.
Padilla has a court-appointed lawyer, but, since being kidnapped, he hasn't been allowed to see her. The lawyer, Donna Newman, filed a habeus corpus petition and was told by the government--which wasn't allowing anyone access to Padilla--that such a petition required her client's signature. She's spent most of the time since fighting the administration for access to her client.
The administration has argued that "Padilla has no rights, as an enemy combatant," and didn't even recognize any court's right to review the case. It lost, on that point, yet continued to refuse access. U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey, who has actually supported the administration's assumed authority to designate and detain "enemy combatants," grew weary of its antics, and issued a very strongly worded ruling in March:
"Lest any confusion remain, this is not a suggestion or a request that Padilla be permitted to consult with counsel, and it is certainly not an invitation to conduct a further 'dialogue' about whether he will be permitted to do so. It is a ruling--a determination--that he will be permitted to do so."
And here we are two months later, and the administration continues to defy this ruling.
The larger implications of all of this are too obvious to need much elaboration. Padilla's case is an outrage, easily the worst example in recent history of a "President" sworn to uphold the Constitution choosing, instead, to contemptuously wipe his ass with it. Imagine it multiplied by one hundred, one thousand, or one million, or more, and you begin to see the potential scope of this problem.
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