The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
At stake in this case is nothing less than the essence of a free society. Even more important than the method of selecting the people’s rulers and their successors is the character of the constraints imposed on the Executive by the rule of law. Unconstrained Executive detention for the purpose of investigating and preventing subversive activity is the hallmark of the Star Chamber. Access to counsel for the purpose of protecting the citizen from official mistakes and mistreatment is the hallmark of due process. — Justice Stevens, dissenting opinion, Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, June 28, 2004
Righties can’t get through their heads that the issue is not what Jose Padilla did; the issue is what we did. Padilla’s association with terrorists justified arrest and conviction. It did not justify arbitrarily stripping Jose Padilla of his rights as a citizen. If Padilla’s rights can be dismissed on the mere say-so of a high government official, then so can yours, or mine, or even Michelle Malkin’s. And there was absolutely no justification for nearly four years of inhumane treatment.
In the last post I wrote that Padilla had been subjected to nearly four years of torture. Some rightie commenters questioned that. A couple sent me emails declaring that nothing Padilla experienced was torture. A little unpleasant, perhaps. But clearly, these are people who think they could take it. “I donâ€™t consider water-boarding torture,” declares Allahpundit stoutly. Brave lad.
Years of sensory deprivation and near-death by drowning are considered torture by experts, but righties thump their chests and declare these to be no big deal. But at the mere mention of “terrorism” they flush the Constitution down the toilet.
Not so brave, I say.
I was in lower Manhattan on 9/11. I saw the towers collapse. I know what terrorism can do. Yet I am not such a coward that I would compromise so much as a comma of the Bill of Rights for the promise of safety.
These sniveling, pathetic little weenies who celebrate Jose Padilla’s detention and refuse to acknowledge the real issues of unlawful detention and torture are the real cowards. They dismiss what was done to Padilla, yet they are so afraid of terrorists they betray the central founding values of our country. And they think they could stand up to waterboarding! They’ve already caved!
The word disgust doesn’t even come close to what I think of them.
I guess where I stand is as follows- I still do not understand why it was necessary to keep this guy in solitary confinement until he was basically a grunting vegetable. I just donâ€™t. Why was it necessary to violate his rights as a citizen? Why keep him from a lawyer? Why?
It couldnâ€™t have impacted our current operations in Afghanistan or Iraq or elsewhere- this guy was convicted for attempting to do undetermined bad things in Chechnya. I havenâ€™t seen any allegations he was a terrorist mastermind or anything like that- not to pick on Taco Bell employees, but I doubt it is their planning genius that has them spending their days taking orders and handing out salsa packets. And hell, if he is that big of a threat, now that we have him convicted, letâ€™s try him on the real charges- the dirty bomb, the apartment bombing schemes. You know- the reason we grabbed him in the first place.
The only thing I can think of is that after they realized there was no real plot to dirty bomb, or blow up apartments, the only thing they could do to save face was to lock him up forever- which I think they would have tried to do, had the SCOTUS not rumbled.
At any rate- convictions of criminals and terrorists are supposed to inspire confidence in our system of justice and our government. I donâ€™t know about the rest of you, but I am not inspired by anything that has happened in this case. Quite the opposite. I am profoundly uncomfortable with the notion that our government can grab anyone they want (Oh- but they wonâ€™t- if you havenâ€™t done anything wrong, you donâ€™t have to worry!), say whatever they want about them in the press, do whatever they want with them for years on end, and then try them for completely different things. Al Qaeda would have to come a long way and take some serious effort to hurt me- the FBI has an office a few miles from me and the feds apparently now have a license to do whatever the hell they want with someone, so long as they think he is a bad guy. Understand? For obvious reasons, that should bother every American.
It should bother every American. Somehow, it doesn’t. Check out this guy commenting on Michelle Malkin’s site:
Padillaâ€™s Guilty!!! yeahâ€¦
The thing is I donâ€™t feel like celebrating since there are alot of Americans that share his islamofacist beliefs that would rather kill a fellow American than defend democracy.
Democracy, you flaming idiot? You just sold out democracy.
Some liberals will pretend this is nothing to be happy about, while other liberals will try to be delighted by this news while not giving the President or the military any credit for it.
I will say the same thing I said after we caught Saddamâ€¦
We should take Padilla, and shove the American flag up his hide until he goes to the toilet red, white and blue. Then we should hang an Israeli flag from his (redacted).
We should put large pictures of the Danish cartoons within full view of his cell. He should be monitored by female prison guards, preferrably evangelicals.
Then every time he yells â€œAllah Akbar,â€ they should respond, â€œJesus loves you.â€
We should force him to watch waterboarding videos set to Jan and Deanâ€™s, â€œSurfing USA.â€
Liberals objecting to this should be invited to share a cell with him to see how the poor misunderstood boy is doing.
The LA Times can immediately ask for his release in the tradition of their love for John Walker Lindh.
3000 Americans were murdered. We should never relent. Every waking minute this fellow is in prison should be a reminder of how enraged we are at what he did.
This reminds me of what John Homans said (emphasis added) —
The memory of 9/11 continues to stoke a weepy sense of American victimhood, and victimhood, as used by both left and right, is a powerful political force. As the dog whisperer can tell you, strength and woundedness together are a dangerous combination. Now, 9/11 has allowed American victim politics to be writ larger than ever, across the globe. When someone from Tulsa, for example, says, â€œItâ€™s important to remember 9/11 every day,â€ what he means is, â€œWe were attacked, we are the aggrieved victims, we are justified.â€ But if we were victims then, we are less so now. This distorted sense of American weakness is weirdly mirrored in the woundedness and shame that motivate our adversaries. In our current tragicomedy of Daddy-knows-best, itâ€™s a national neurosis, a perpetual childhood. (With its 9/11 truth-conspiracy theories, the far left has its own infantile daddy complex, except in that version, the daddies are the source of all evil.) No doubt, there are real enemies, Islamist and otherwise, more than ever (although the cureâ€”the Iraq warâ€”has inarguably made the disease worse). But the spectacular scope of 9/11, its psychic power, continues to distort Americaâ€™s relationships. It will take years for the country to again understand its place in the world.
Here’s another commenter on Malkin’s site:
What the Padilla case shows is President Bush should not have excluded (in his November 2001 Executive Order) anyone, anywhere from trial by military commission for terror related crimes. Those Americans capture in America during WWII were prosecuted that way and some were even executed via the death penalty.
Actually, I prefer that terrorists be killed on the spot, wherever we find themâ€¦ That should get the libs excited but I wrote exactly what I think.
I suspect this person meant to say “Germans captured in America during WWII.” But of course we know exactly who is guilty and who isn’t without trial, because of the big “G” that shows up on their foreheads. Oh, wait …
â€œDoes al-Qaeda still constitute an â€˜existentialâ€™ threat?â€ asks David Kilcullen, who has written several influential papers on the need for a new strategy against Islamic insurgents. Kilcullen, who as an Australian army officer commanded counter-insurgency units in East Timor, recently served as an adviser in the Pentagon and is now a senior adviser on counterterrorism at the State Department. He was referring to the argument about whether the terrorism of the twenty-first century endangers the very existence of the United States and its allies, as the Soviet Unionâ€™s nuclear weapons did throughout the Cold War (and as the remnants of that arsenal still might).
â€œI think it does, but not for the obvious reasons,â€ Kilcullen told me. He said the most useful analogy was the menace posed by European anarchists in the nineteenth century. â€œIf you add up everyone they personally killed, it came to maybe 2,000 people, which is not an existential threat.â€ But one of their number assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The act itself took the lives of two people. The unthinking response of European governments in effect started World War I. â€œSo because of the reaction they provoked, they were able to kill millions of people and destroy a civilization.
â€œIt is not the people al-Qaeda might kill that is the threat,â€ he concluded. “Our reaction is what can cause the damage. Itâ€™s al-Qaeda plus our response that creates the existential danger.â€ [James Fallows, “Declaring Victory,” The Atlantic Monthly, September 2006]
Update: Must read — Marty Lederman at Balkinization.