[B5JMS] ATTN JMS: Nightwatch/Home Guard in America?

b5jms-admin at cs.columbia.edu b5jms-admin at cs.columbia.edu
Mon Aug 19 04:24:27 EDT 2002

From: "Huang Gang" <kongwong at yifan.net>
Date: Sat, 17 Aug 2002 21:32:02 GMT
Lines: 145

Or perhaps this is just a time machine sending us back to 1942?

By JONATHAN TURLEY, Jonathan Turley is a professor of constitutional law at
Washington University.

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for U.S. citizens he
deems to be
"enemy combatants" has moved him from merely being a political embarrassment
to being a
constitutional menace.

Ashcroft's plan, disclosed last week but little publicized, would allow him
to order the
indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip them of their
constitutional rights and access to the courts by declaring them enemy

The proposed camp plan should trigger immediate congressional hearings and
reconsideration of Ashcroft's fitness for this important office. Whereas Al
Qaeda is a
threat to the lives of our citizens, Ashcroft has become a clear and present
threat to
our liberties.

The camp plan was forged at an optimistic time for Ashcroft's small inner
circle, which
has been carefully watching two test cases to see whether this vision could
become a
reality. The cases of Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi will determine
whether U.S.
citizens can be held without charges and subject to the arbitrary and
unchecked authority
of the government.

Hamdi has been held without charge even though the facts of his case are
identical to those in the case of John Walker Lindh. Both Hamdi and Lindh
were captured
in Afghanistan as foot soldiers in Taliban units. Yet Lindh was given a
lawyer and a
trial, while Hamdi rots in a floating Navy brig in Norfolk, Va.

This week, the government refused to comply with a federal judge who ordered
that he be
given the underlying evidence justifying Hamdi's treatment. The Justice
Department has
insisted that the judge must simply accept its declaration and cannot
interfere with the
president's absolute authority in "a time of war."

In Padilla's case, Ashcroft initially claimed that the arrest stopped a plan
to detonate
a radioactive bomb in New York or Washington, D.C. The administration later
issued an
embarrassing correction that there was no evidence Padilla was on such a
mission. What is
clear is that Padilla is an American citizen and was arrested in the United
facts that should trigger the full application of constitutional rights.

Ashcroft hopes to use his self-made "enemy combatant" stamp for any citizen
whom he deems
to be part of a wider terrorist conspiracy.

Perhaps because of his discredited claims of preventing radiological
terrorism, aides
have indicated that a "high-level committee" will recommend which citizens
are to be
stripped of their constitutional rights and sent to Ashcroft's new camps.

Few would have imagined any attorney general seeking to reestablish such
camps for
citizens. Of course, Ashcroft is not considering camps on the order of the
camps used to incarcerate Japanese American citizens in World War II. But he
can be
credited only with thinking smaller; we have learned from painful experience
unchecked authority, once tasted, easily becomes insatiable.

We are only now getting a full vision of Ashcroft's America. Some of his
dreamed of creating a great society or a nation unfettered by racism.
Ashcroft seems to
dream of a country secured from itself, neatly contained and controlled by
his judgment
of loyalty.

For more than 200 years, security and liberty have been viewed as coexistent
Ashcroft and his aides appear to view this relationship as lineal, where
security must
precede liberty.

Since the nation will never be entirely safe from terrorism, liberty has
become a mere
rhetorical justification for increased security.

Ashcroft is a catalyst for constitutional devolution, encouraging citizens
to accept
autocratic rule as their only way of avoiding massive terrorist attacks.

His greatest problem has been preserving a level of panic and fear that
would induce a
free people to surrender the rights so dearly won by their ancestors.

In "A Man for All Seasons," Sir Thomas More was confronted by a young
lawyer, Will Roper,
who sought his daughter's hand. Roper proclaimed that he would cut down
every law in
England to get after the devil.

More's response seems almost tailored for Ashcroft: "And when the last law
was down and
the devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all
being flat? ...
This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast ... and if you
cut them
down--and you are just the man to do it--do you really think you could stand
upright in
the winds that would blow then?"

Every generation has had Ropers and Ashcrofts who view our laws and
traditions as mere
obstructions rather than protections in times of peril. But before we allow
Ashcroft to
denude our own constitutional landscape, we must take a stand and have the
courage to
say, "Enough."

Every generation has its test of principle in which people of good faith can
no longer
remain silent in the face of authoritarian ambition. If we cannot join
together to fight
the abomination of American camps, we have already lost what we are


From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: 18 Aug 2002 04:53:56 GMT
Lines: 30

Yeah, it's getting more than a little scary ou there.  There was an excellent
analysis of the full impact of the Patriot Act posted over at:


And the full text of the so-called Patriot Act, for those who want to see it
for themselves (which a lot of congressmen didn't prior to voting for it) is

Of the republicans in the White House in the recent past, Nixon was a crook,
Reagan did immeasurable damage to the country, Bush Senior was okay just
barely, I think his heart was in the right place but he was just sorta
clueless...but this is the first administration that has sent the same kind of
worry and downright fear through me that was previously only associated with
the McCarthy/HUAC period.

They're shredding the Constitution up there with terrifying speed.


(jmsatb5 at aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd., 
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine 
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