Jose Padilla & the 10 Commandments
- "The Tools of Tyrants" -- Jose Padilla and the 10 Commandments
By Mike Whitney
"Information Clearing House"
It shouldn't surprise us that the Supreme Court has decided to take
a case about the public displaying of the 10 Commandments, but
refused to hear the case of Jose Padilla, the alleged "dirty
bomber". On the one hand, we have a hot-button cultural issue that
is bound to divide the country along ideological lines. (good for
Bush). On the other, we have the most significant case in the
history of the court, casually pushed aside for a later date. Both
cases reveal how deeply politicized the high court has become, and
how (eventually) some of its members will have to be removed in
order to restore confidence in the legitimacy of the institution.
The case of Jose Padilla appeared in the media again this week, when
a lower court ruled (as it has twice before) that the administration
must either charge Padilla or release him from prison. The Bush team
has no intention of doing either. Padilla is the "test case" to
establish that the President can jail a US citizen indefinitely
without charging him with a crime. This "precedent" is central to
the administration's plans for unlimited power.
Tyranny is built on the foundation of arbitrary imprisonment; a
principle that Bush and his colleagues fully understand.
Padilla has already served two and a half years in solitary
confinement without ever being formally charged with criminal
wrongdoing. The administration has affixed to him the moniker
of "unlawful combatant"; the rubric under which all the rights of
citizenship are summarily stripped from its victim. The Justice
Department has produced no solid evidence of Padilla's guilt and has
repeatedly changed its claims regarding the "alleged" conspiracy.
The DOJ's muddled approach creates the impression that the case
against Padilla is weak at best; suggesting that he may be entirely
innocent. At this point, however, his innocence or guilt is
irrelevant. The larger issue is whether the administration will
succeed in its quest to savage the Bill of Rights and 800 years of
legal precedent with one swift jolt.
So far, the advantage goes to Bush. By refusing to hear the case,
the Supreme Court has reinforced the absolute power of the executive
to indefinitely detain citizens without judicial review. Simply put,
it marks the end of freedom in America.
It's clear that the majority of the court knew exactly what they
were doing by turning their backs on Padilla. After all, the
ultimate purpose of right-wing appointees to the bench is to
buttress the power of the president. Scalia's comments are
particularly searing in this regard: "The very core of liberty
secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been
freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive."
Really? Scalia's remarks belie the fact that he has condemned
Padilla to indefinite incarceration by refusing to hear the case. It
would be difficult to cite a more stunning example of personal
Conversely, Judge John Paul Stevens takes the alternate view when he
states, concerning the Padilla case, that it poses "a unique and
unprecedented threat to the freedom of every American citizen... At
stake is nothing less than the essence of a free society... For if
this Nation is to remain true to the ideals symbolized by its flag,
it must not wield the tools of tyrants even to resist an assault by
the forces of tyranny."
"The tools of tyrants?" Is Stevens overstating his view?
Not at all. What makes the case so extraordinary is that its meaning
is completely straightforward. The court is not being asked to
quibble over inconsequential aspects of the law. They are being
asked, point blank, whether or not American citizens have ANY rights
at all. It's just that simple.
Padilla has been deprived of ALL of his rights, not merely a few.
So, we must ask ourselves: Are US citizens entitled to any
(definite) legal protections, or are these protections simply
granted at the President's discretion? And, if our personal freedom
is dependent on the subjective whims of the President, then why talk
about "inalienable" rights?
There's nothing haphazard in the way that the Padilla case has
developed. In fact, there are various organizations that operate
openly within the country that are determined to change the
fundamental principles of American justice. With Padilla's case.
these groups have won a major victory and struck a mortal blow to
the very heart of our system. So long as Padilla sits in prison,
deprived of all his constitutional rights, there are no guarantees
of personal liberty in America.
Mike Whitney Email: fergiewhitney@...
Copyright: Mike Whitney
Padilla's indefinite detention puts your rights at risk:
03/04/05 - - Op/Ed - USATODAY.com
Picture yourself in this scenario.
You're a U.S. citizen landing at a major airport from abroad. You're
pulled out of line at customs, arrested, thrown in jail for a month
and then spirited off to a military prison.
Nearly three years later, you're still there, never charged with any
crime. The government claims it can hold you forever without
answering to any judge or court.
The scenario is not fiction. It's happening now. Only a federal
judge in South Carolina is standing in the way. At stake is the
constitutional guarantee of every American to be free from arbitrary
Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen born in Brooklyn, N.Y., was arrested at
Chicago's O'Hare Airport in May 2002. He's still being held. No
charges have been filed.
Despite the clear language of the Constitution that prohibits
detention without trial, the Bush administration insists that it can
indefinitely hold Padilla - or anyone else it chooses - as an "enemy
combatant" without trial or even formal charges.
Padilla is one of a handful of Americans known to have been swept up
in the war on terror, but he is the lone suspect not released or
handled by the courts. So far, he has received only indictment by
press conference - and with dubious credibility at that.
The Justice Department first claimed Padilla was sent home by al-
Qaeda to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in Washington. That
scenario was downplayed last year in favor of new allegations: An
alleged plan to blow up high-rise apartment buildings using natural
gas. Still no charges, still no trial.
In South Carolina on Monday, U.S. District Judge Henry Floyd ordered
the government to either try Padilla or let him go. Floyd, a Bush
appointee, ruled that the government had failed to cite any law or
legal precedent to justify holding him indefinitely.
Defenders of the administration argue that Padilla is dangerous.
Putting him on trial, they say, could endanger intelligence sources
that provided evidence against him.
Perhaps he is a threat. Perhaps there's reason for suspicion but not
enough evidence to convict. Or perhaps the government erred in
arresting him and would rather not admit it. Without a trial,
there's no way to find out.
For obvious reasons, the Constitution denies the president or his
aides the power to decide by themselves that a citizen can be
imprisoned indefinitely without judicial review. Armed with such
power, an administration could imprison its political opponents or
silence them with the threat.
Yes, there is a risk that if Padilla is freed he might make trouble.
But tracking potential criminals is a job intelligence and police
agencies can handle. The cost of setting a precedent that presidents
can jail whomever they choose would be far greater.
This case is not just about Jose Padilla. It's about every citizen's
liberty. If the foundations of freedom crumble under the stresses of
the war on terrorism, the terrorists will have won.
U.S. Citizen Jose Padilla :
Imprisoned Without Trial for 2 Years and 271 Days by our Government
While one of us is chained, None of us are Free
Charge Jose Padilla
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise
infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand
Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the
Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor
shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in
jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal
case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private
property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
5th Amendment to U.S. Constitution
BACK TO SQUARE ONE? June 29 Bad news and good news from the Supreme
Court, which should keep the arguments going for years to come.
DECEIVING THE SUPREME COURT: June 8 News of a defense department
memo on torture is relevant to the case of Jose Padilla.
NEW ACCUSATIONS (MEANING LITTLE): June 3 The government releases
more detailed accusations against Padilla, but still has no plans to
argue his guilt in court.
SUPREME COURT HEARS PADILLA CASE: April 28 The Supreme Court heard
arguments about the detention of Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant.
Media Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
On June 9, 2002 Jose Padilla--a.k.a. Abdullah Al Muhajir--was
transferred from control of the U.S. Department of Justice to
military control. Since that time, Padilla has been held in a navy
brig in South Carolina.
Padilla has not been charged with a crime, and does not have access
to a lawyer in his detention. This is a clear violation of the 5th
Amendment, and probably a violation of the 6th Amendment. It is also
a clearly abominable violation of the democratic traditions of the
Padilla has been accused of plotting heinous acts of terrorism,
particularly the setting off of a "dirty bomb". He has been accused
of conspiring with members of al-Queda, and planning to scout for
that terrorist organization, using the benefits of his U.S.
citizenship. President Bush has designated Padilla an "enemy
These are frightening accusations, and they may be true. Accusations
do not give the President the authority to lock someone away,
however. According to the laws and traditions of the U.S., the way
to determine who gets imprisoned is through the due process of a
trial by jury.
Jose Padilla may be a traitor and a terrorist. But he was not
captured in Afghanistan with a gun in his hand. He was arrested at
Chicago O'Hare airport. If Jose Padilla can be held without criminal
charges, strictly on the say-so of the President, then any American
can be. That is tyranny. We must put an end to it.
It is essential that Padilla be either freed or charged with a
WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE
To subscribe to this group, send an email to:
NEWS ARCHIVE IS OPEN TO PUBLIC VIEW