Thursday, February 22, 2007

What Is This Russia?

In the past, this saying might be uttered when something happened in the U.S. that was such an affront to our founding principles, that the only conceivable comparison was the communist USSR.

I guess everything old is new again.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that hundreds of prisoners who are classified as "enemy combatants" do not have the right to challenge their detention in federal court. The decision supports the Military Commissions Act, a draconian law that was passed in the waning days of the Republican controlled 109th Congress. The act allows the government to detain "enemy combatants" indefinitely and prevents detainees from challenging the legality of their detention in U.S. courts.

District Court Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote, "The arguments are creative but not cogent. To accept them would be to defy the will of Congress." Funny, it was always my understanding that the role of the judicial branch was to interpret the Constitution and to determine if laws passed by Congress and signed by the President violated it. Perhaps Judge Randolph was sick on that day of law school.

I hope he has enough ink for that big rubber stamp of his.

It simply cannot be reasonable argued that detaining people without charge and access to legal resources is in keeping with our founding principles. The Bush administration and the Pentagon maintain that the people being held in Guantanamo and other secret facilities around the world represent, "vicious terrorist operatives." Perhaps so, and I'm not suggesting that we release criminals back into the world populace. However, denying alleged terrorists the same right to a fair trial that American citizens enjoy, suggests that the administration does not have faith in the very mechanisms of a free society on which they so often pontificate.

What is this Russia?


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