Thursday, May 10, 2007

Saddam's Iraq Will Not Become Our America

We, as Americans, are in danger of being subjected to the same sort of law that the Iraqis were held under during the regime of Saddam Hussein. If we are not careful, our own politicians may turn our Constitution against us and give the government more unrestrained power than was ever intended.
U.S. citizens have the Sixth Amendment right which states that, "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 where in the crime shall been committed..."
But in a senate hearing in January of 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said to Senator Arlen Specter, "...the Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas."
As found on Wikipedia, habeas corpus is the "legal action or writ by means of which detainees can seek relief from unlawful imprisonment." In other words, U.S. citizens can NOT be unlawfully imprisoned.
The only exceptions to that are spelled out in the U.S. Constitution in Section 9 of Article One: "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it."
To simplify things, look at the Sixth Amendment as a positive and habeas corpus as a double-negative. They both state the same thing but in inverse statements. The Sixth Amendment says that U.S. citizens have the right to be lawfully imprisoned if they are to be imprisoned at all. While habeas corpus says that U.S. citizens are not to be unlawfully imprisoned.
So, by Gonzales saying that U.S. citizens do not have the right of habeas corpus, he is inversely saying that U.S. citizens do not have the right of the Sixth Amendment. If, per Gonzales, I can be unlawfully imprisoned then I can't invoke my sixth amendment right. And that is illegal.
But there can be arguments that the "detainees" referred to in the definition of habeas corpus are not defined as the same as the "accused" in the Sixth Amendment, thus rendering my argument insufficient. These definitions were gathered from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law. Detainee--"a person who is detained; especially: a person held in custody prior to trial or hearing." Accused--"a person who has been arrested for or formally charged with a crime: the defendant in a criminal case."
Both definitions refer to a trial for the individual in question which prevents "unlawful imprisonment". And if that person is not charged, then they must be released within 24-hours as stated by law. If they are charged, which would allow the person to be held as long as the investigation is run, then that implies a trial will be held. And holding someone charged for a crime indefinitely is considered "cruel and unusual punishment" by the Eighth Amendment and is illegal.
All people of the United States are considered innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law. Taking away habeas corpus from the American people because the Constitution never fully grants it to U.S. citizens and not for reasons listed in the Constitution is illegal as proven above. The state of the nation is not in rebellion and the U.S. is not under invasion and so our government cannot suspend habeas corpus to U.S. citizens.
And though the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 may be considered an invasion--it is not. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law defines invasion as "the act of or an instance of invading". The United States is not under the act of invasion and the instance of the attack occurred over 5-years prior to the attorney general's statement rendering the instance of the attack void in today's view. In addition, a terrorist attack is by no means an invasion by definition; rather it is a violent means of political and/or religious coercion through the act of harming innocent civilians. Let us not be confused.
Do not allow habeas corpus to be suspended or eliminated all together as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has implied that it can. This is America, we are Americans and we will not be abused by our own politicians--not now nor ever!

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