Friday, September 29, 2006


You have the body

The US Senate is about to vote on the "detainee bill". The version they will vote on does not have the amendment, proposed by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), that would allow detentions to be challenged in court. This is frightening.

I don't care, for the moment, what you think about "interrogation techniques".

I don't care, just now, whether you think the Bill of Rights applies to non-citizens.

I don't care whether you think it's OK to "detain" someone captured within the US, or only outside the country.

I only want the answer to one question:

How can anyone find it acceptable to allow the imprisonment of someone if the authorities can't (or won't) go before an impartial judge and convince the judge that the prisoner should be held?

It's simple. It's fair. It's quick. There's even a special court for it, which can hear cases that have to do with national security. And, the real key here: If we don't demand it, what prevents abuse? What prevents men in black suits from showing up in the middle of the night, saying that you gave money to an organization that supports terrorism, and taking you away? What assures you that if that should happen, you'd ever be seen again? What gives you the chance to defend yourself, or even hear the charges? What prevents abuse?

"Oh, that wouldn't happen in the United States," is not an answer.

"You're soft on terrorism," is not an answer.

"It's what we need in order to be safe," is not an answer.

How can we accept that and still claim American values? And what protects us from abuse (or, for that matter, even mistaken identities and other errors)? We're about to pass terribly frightening legislation. Don't we care about the answers to these questions?


Update: I think I'm going to link, here, to some other blogs with similar sentiments.
"A Dark Day" from The Greenbelt
"The last two letters in the acronym stand for 'Brainless Idiots'" from Creek Running North
"A 'Dear Habeas Corpus' Letter" from Echidne of the Snakes
"Michael Smerconish: Get The Habeus Out Of Corpus" from abyss2hope
"How Torture Became Law, How Outrage Dies" by Maia Szalavitz from the Huffington Post
"We are now officially living in a dictatorship" from A Blog Around the Clock
"Imagine Giving Donald Rumsfeld Unbounded Discretion to Detain You Indefinitely" from Balkinization
"Enemy combatants: who decides" from Orcinus
"Torture and Permanent Detention Bill Passes" from Cosmic Variance
"The legalization of torture and permanent detention" from Unclaimed Territory

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