Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Habeas Corpus -- Not just for Liberal Whiners

I have trouble understanding how anyone could be opposed to habeas corpus for any human being. If the case for detaining someone is so weak that a judge would refuse the imprisonment, then that person should not be allowed to be held. If the evidence against a person is of such a secret and sensitive nature that the media cannot have access to it, then so be it. A court appearance can still be made with only the judge, the prosecution, the defense, and the detainee. Everyone should have this right. Holding people without evidence, or without charges is unacceptable by a free nation, no matter where the detainees are held, or from what nation they come.

Freedom has a price, and I'm willing to stand in the face of terrorists and tell them that they may kill me or my family, but they cannot take my freedom from me. The United States Government is not protecting us from terrorism by eroding freedom, they are perpetuating the terrorists' goals. I cannot condone the destruction of freedom in return for a slave's life.

This should not be confused with sympathy for terrorists, or agreement with anyone's cause. Abuse of liberty by the government must be opposed by all who expect to be free tomorrow. I'm not fighting for any individual person here, because there are certainly people that deserve to have their freedom taken away. I'm standing up and demanding that the court have the opportunity to review the evidence. We cannot stand for perpetual war, and we must demand that our nation holds liberty and justice as the high standard when dealing with all peoples.

Freedom is a high and lofty standard, and it comes with hard decisions. Granting the Government the ability to take away someone else's rights without due process inherently erodes your own rights. You may be the minority that is unjustly accused of the same crime tomorrow.

Here's the Downsizer Dispatch for June 16th --

Subject: Good news sparks more fear mongering

On Thursday, June 12, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling restoring the writ of habeas corpus. Those being held as suspected terrorists should now be able to challenge their detentions in a court of law, as our Constitution requires.

This is good news! The Judicial Branch has moved to block the overreaching power of the Executive Branch. This means America's system of "checks and balances" still has some life! But more must be done to restore and preserve the rule of law. We must . . .
  • Continue to use our right to "petition Congress for a redress of grievances"
  • Compel the Legislative Branch to deny the Executive Branch the power to spy on Americans without a warrant
  • Ensure that both the Executive and Judicial branches execute the laws of the land
This means . . .
  • The lawsuits against the telecom companies that aided the President's warrantless spying must have their day in court -- no immunity for the telecoms!
  • Congress must block the President's relentless drive for "legalized" warrantless spying powers -- the existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) must NOT be replaced.
To accomplish these goals we must overcome the fear-mongering propaganda of those who favor unchecked presidential power.
  • On last Friday's Bill O'Reilly show Laura Ingraham claimed that the habeas decision would result in the release of vast numbers of terrorists
Both of these claims are dishonest. Here's the truth . . .
  • The right of habeas corpus is the right to challenge a detention in court, not a guarantee that anyone accused of terrorist actions will actually be released -- no one will be released if the government has solid legal grounds for detaining them.
  • Back in February, before the Protect America Act expired, the Executive Branch had the power to renew surveillance warrants for 12 months. If any surveillance actually lapses in August (and we have no way of knowing if that's true), it will be because the Bush administration failed to renew their so-called warrants for 12 months -- perhaps so that they could make this a campaign issue.
We must continue to resist this kind of fear mongering, and give Congress the courage to do the same. We must maintain our drumbeat of opposition to replacing FISA with so-called compromise legislation that grants telecom immunity and legalizes warrantless spying. Send Congress a message opposing immunity and any replacement for FISA.

Use your personal comments to tell Congress that you know the Bush administration is using fraudulent scare tactics to win immunity for the telecom companies and to "legalize" warrantless spying.

Because of this dispatch I sent the following to my congresspeople --

I'm suspicious about the need for a restored or revised Protect America Act, and completely opposed to Telecom Immunity.

My personal comment to you:

The compromise legislation proposed by Senator Bond is unacceptable. I've written on this matter fairly frequently because we cannot allow the Executive Branch to bypass Constitutional Checks and Balances on any issue, no matter which party holds the office. Please oppose any version of the Protect America Act or any legislation that grants the President warrantless surveillance.

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