Skip to comments.A clear and present danger: Ashcroft scheme simply chilling
Posted on 08/18/2002 12:31:24 PM PDT by BellStar
ATTORNEY General John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for U.S. citizens he deems to be "enemy
combatants" has moved him from merely being a political embarrassment to being a constitutional menace.
Ashcroft's plan, disclosed earlier this month but
little publicized, would allow him to order the
indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily
strip them of their constitutional rights and access
to the courts by declaring them enemy combatants.
The proposed camp plan should trigger immediate
congressional hearings and reconsideration of
Ashcroft's fitness for this important office. Whereas
al-Qaida is a threat to the lives of our citizens,
Ashcroft has become a clear and present threat to our liberties.
The camp plan was forged at an optimistic time for
Ashcroft's small inner circle, which has been carefully
watching two test cases to see whether this vision
could become a reality. The cases of Jose Padilla and
Yaser Esam Hamdi will determine whether U.S. citizens
can be held without charges and subject to the
arbitrary and unchecked authority of the government.
Hamdi has been held without charge even though the
facts of his case are virtually identical to those in
the case of John Walker Lindh. Both Hamdi and Lindh
were captured in Afghanistan as foot soldiers in
Taliban units. Yet Lindh was given a lawyer and a
trial, while Hamdi rots in a floating Navy brig in
Last week, the government refused to comply with a
federal judge who ordered that he be given the
underlying evidence justifying Hamdi's treatment. The
Justice Department has insisted that the judge must
simply accept its declaration and cannot interfere with
the president's absolute authority in "a time of war."
In Padilla's case, Ashcroft initially claimed that the
arrest stopped a plan to detonate a radioactive bomb in
New York or Washington, D.C. The administration later
issued an embarrassing correction that there was no
evidence Padilla was on such a mission. What is clear
is that Padilla is an American citizen and was
arrested in the United States -- two facts that should
trigger the full application of constitutional rights.
Ashcroft hopes to use his self-made "enemy combatant"
stamp for any citizen whom he deems to be part of a
wider terrorist conspiracy.
Perhaps because of his discredited claims of preventing
radiological terrorism, aides have indicated that
a "high-level committee" will recommend which citizens
are to be stripped of their constitutional rights and
sent to Ashcroft's new camps.
Few would have imagined any attorney general seeking to
re-establish such camps for citizens. Of course,
Ashcroft is not considering camps on the order of the
internment camps used to incarcerate Japanese American
citizens in World War II. But he can be credited only
with thinking smaller; we have learned from painful
experience that unchecked authority, once tasted,
easily becomes insatiable.
We are only now getting a full vision of Ashcroft's
America. Some of his predecessors dreamed of creating a
great society or a nation unfettered by racism.
Ashcroft seems to dream of a country secured from
itself, neatly contained and controlled by his
judgment of loyalty.
For more than 200 years, security and liberty have been
viewed as coexistent values. Ashcroft and his aides
appear to view this relationship as lineal, where
security must precede liberty.
Since the nation will never be entirely safe from
terrorism, liberty has become a mere rhetorical
justification for increased security.
Ashcroft is a catalyst for constitutional devolution,
encouraging citizens to accept autocratic rule as their
only way of avoiding massive terrorist attacks.
His greatest problem has been preserving a level of
panic and fear that would induce a free people to
surrender the rights so dearly won by their ancestors.
In A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More was
confronted by a young lawyer, Will Roper, who sought
his daughter's hand. Roper proclaimed that he would cut
down every law in England to get after the devil.
More's response seems almost tailored for
Ashcroft: "And when the last law was down and the devil
turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the
laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with
laws from coast to coast and if you cut them down --
and you are just the man to do it -- do you really
think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?"
Every generation has had Ropers and Ashcrofts who view
our laws and traditions as mere obstructions rather
than protections in times of peril. But before we allow
Ashcroft to denude our own constitutional landscape, we
must take a stand and have the courage to say, "Enough."
Every generation has its test of principle in which
people of good faith can no longer remain silent in the
face of authoritarian ambition. If we cannot join
together to fight the abomination of American camps, we
have already lost what we are defending.
Turley is a professor of constitutional law at
George Washington University, in Washington, D.C.
The left bleeds rivers of blood for Esam hamdi who
like me, was born in a country not of his heritage but
one of the place his parents happened to be.
I was born in Japan where my father an Army Lieutenant
was stationed along with his Army bride from Texas and
son my brother. I was moved back to Texas while I was still a toddler.
I am an American! Japan recognizes me as a Japanese citizen also!
Would I take up arms against Japan in the event it attacked the US?
You bet I would! Esam hamdi is about as much an American as I'm Japanese!
Ashcroft scheme is a Solomon like decision made with all the facts which were
conveniently left out of Turley's Op Ed !
Pretty much says it all.
My youngest sister was also born overseas as a military brat. She would never side with Italy if it should come to that. :)
And also a Leftist stooge determined to prevent America from defending itself from terrorists.
Whatever powers this new Imperial administration decides to grant itself will carry over to the next administration. Someday, the Democrats will be back in the Whitehouse and you better be ready for how they'll use the power.
Imagine if X42 had this ability, what do you suspect he might have done with it?
Pretty much says it all.
I don't quite get it. When Turley was all over Clinton's case a lot of FReepers thought he was just dandy. Now, because some don't agree with this point of view, he is just a leftist loser.
It makes a whole lot more sense, IMO, to discuss the message, argue against it if you will, rather than just use ad hominem criticism which seems to me the lazy way and convinces nobody who does not already agree.
You left out that he is a deeply religious, patriotic American.
But of course, this is not just an ad hominem criticism. Read between the lines and you'll see all of the arguments and rationale. ROFL!
You're right. That definitely excuses the crap he's pulling right now. All Hail Ashcroft! How do you define patriotic anyway? Someone who's willing to strip away the rights of Americans in the name of security?
Presumably Turley put "time of war" in quotes because that's what DoJ argued.
If so, they are wrong.
There is no state of war, there has been no Congressional declaration of war, and the United States is not formally at war with anyone.
Congress can legally declare war against "al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbolla, Lakshar-al-Jihad, Islamic Jihad, Osama bin Laden, and its members" as easily as it did against Japan. Why Congress has not done this is a mystery.
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