Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Even Bush's Judges Can't stand him

Score one for the Good Guys The Great writ, Habeas Corpus, may be on life support but it ain't dead yet:
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In a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration, a federal judge ruled the case of "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla is a matter for law enforcement -- not the military -- and ordered the government to charge him or let him go.
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And this isn't some "liberal activist judge", that the Right-wing machine can now smear and destroy; This is one of W's Handpicked appointments sent up only last year and even he's had enough :
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Floyd, appointed by Bush in 2003, gave the administration 45 days to take action. He wrote that to rule in favor of the government "would not only offend the rule of law and violate this country's constitutional tradition," it would be a "betrayal of this nation's commitment to the separation of powers that safeguards our democratic values and individual liberties." _________________

Why does this matter and who the hell is Jose Padilla?
Jose Padilla's story is probably the scariest and most ignored action taken by the Bush admin since the beginning of their "war on an abstract Noun(Terror)"

For those who may have come in Late: Jose Padilla is an American Citizen who was arrested by the FBI coming off a plane in Chicago back in 2002. at the Time the Government made some very scary statements to the press about what he was accused of plotting to do (detonate a dirty bomb in Chicago). However rather than charging him with a crime, they declared him an "enemy combatant".

As a result, Padilla has spent the last three years held incommunicado on a Us Navy Prison Barge, without being able to contact his family, without access to a lawyer, without charges ever being filed against him, , and without any idea when he might be allowed to leave, if ever (remember W called the current war a "generational struggle")

To Sum up, an American citizen was arrested On American soil and was, in effect "disappeared" solely on the say so of the federal government, who has not had to produce one shred of evidence to back its claims up.

If that don't give you a shudder nothing will.

And without even the faintest trace of irony, while W was lecturing leaders abroad about democracy, and proclaiming freedom was on the march, back at home, his lawyers were arguing:
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David Salmons from the U.S. Solicitor General's Office [argued] that the president has the right to detain any enemy combatant while the United States is fighting al-Qaida. But he added that there's no risk the president may round up citizens and detain them

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Well that's better, as long as there's no risk, ....except of course, that's exactly what you did do in this very case !!

And if he can be targeted so can you. In the words of the ACLU:
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"Everybody says the war on terror could last a lifetime. If they can do it to him, they can do it to others."
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And they aren't exaggerating, if the government's position were to prevail in this things could be very bad. You, me, or any other person the Government decides to gin up a little "secret evidence" on (cause as we all know, after the Iraq war, Us intelligence sources have proven themselves soooo reliable.) Can be picked up and whisked away to a secure location, to endure "aggressive interrogation" techniques for as long as the government wishes.
Today's ruling was a big first step:
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Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, called Floyd's order a significant blow to the administration. "It's a genuine limitation on the president's belief that he can do what he wants in the war on terror," said Ratner, whose group represents scores of detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
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Unfortunately it isn't over yet.

Unrepentant, and heedless of this slap-down from a fellow conservative. The Justice department has decided to appeal. This is a case that bears watching as closely as possible. The government is claiming an extremely dangerous power for itself, one that flies in the face of everything we supposedly stand for, one that makes a mockery of the Bill of Rights itself.
We cannot let them win this battle. Padilla may be many things, a punk, a gang-member maybe even a terrorist, but under our laws and justice system someone should have to prove that before they are allowed to lock him away for the rest of his life. In the words of his lawyer (hired by family, he's never met his client):

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When my client can join the party, we can all celebrate," he said. "And when I say join the party, that means whether he goes home to his family or when he gets his day in court, then we can all celebrate."
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