6/24/2002

 

Bush is Getting Worse

 

I really wish President Bush and his administration would stop making foolish mistakes in their efforts to prevent terrorism and I could move on to other topics, but some things have to be commented on.

 

Jose Padilla is accused of plotting to help al-Qaida set off a “dirty” radioactive bomb in the U.S. He’s been held since May without being charged. He’s now held by the military with very limited legal contact and no legal rights. Now Bush is saying that Padilla can be held or released, or locked-up forever, simply on the president’s say-so, with no process of any kind (AP 6/14).

 

Of course I’m glad they caught him. Agents were watching Padilla so closely before he was caught that they were secretly on the flight he took back to the states. If they were on his trail that tightly didn’t they get enough evidence to hold and try him normally?

 

That this guy may be guilty is irrelevant to the point that this is a U. S. citizen held without any due process at the whim of the president (or should I say king?), possibly for life. Is this what we want to let terrorists reduce us too? Looking like we’re running scared and dropping rights right and left as we scurry to our protective hole of security at all costs? This is wrong. This is just flat wrong, and is no way to win against terrorism.

 

Ironically, the big story the New York Times (6/8) has out of China is how they are holding a lawyer without due process, and people there are upset because it shows the rule of law is sporadic.

 

I realize we are at war and there are times on the battlefield things have to be handled differently. In this case though we have time to process his case normally. The government can go before a judge in a closed court and explain why he must be held and why bail must be denied.

 

I also realize self protection is essential, but so far I haven’t read anything indicating that the safe guards we put on how police and FBI do their job without trampling citizens’ rights have been a hinderance. On the contrary, apparently they had plenty of forewarning about September 11 and just didn’t use it properly. They also apparently have a case against Jose Padilla so they don’t need to do this end-run on the constitution. The administration tries to site precedents from other wars, but this is not a battlefield situation, and the precedents may be bad ideas we shouldn’t repeat.

 

This end-run would rip holes in the constitution and then, on at least one level, the terrorists will have won. The constitution is suffering blows I could never have imagined in my lifetime. Wake up and scream about it. Contact your representatives, your senators, the White House, and the Supreme Court and let them know that America is concerned about what all this is doing to the constitution and whether it is necessary. If the leaders won’t act like leaders then we have to invoke that old saying, “If the people will lead, the leaders will follow.”