Saturday, September 8, 2012

Executive Excesses Extended

One of the themes of the last election was that the overreach of executive power under the President had to stop, and one place it was going to be halted in a definite and high-profile way would be the permanent closure of the detainment center used by the President for the indefinite detainment of untried captives.

So imagine my surprise as we approach the next election, and see an article about how the President not only still operates "gitmo" as a facility for indefinite trial-free detainment, but has attempted to impose new rules to restrict access to lawyers in a position to ascertain whether the law might afford some relief for any violation of the law that may have occurred.

If American freedoms mean anything, they mean the freedoms enshrined in our written law. This is at least the very minimum freedom Americans have fought and died to protect for two centuries. Equal justice under the law is a principle we must be committed to uphold if we are to cling to any notion that America values the rights about which its citizens are so fond of speaking.

As with trial-free executions (on the say-so not of the jury guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, but the say-so of government-employed bureaucrats), the current administration seems not to understand this at all. If some lawyer wants to provide counsel to some punk captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan, what business is it of the government to keep claims from being adjudicated by the courts? Without courts, no mechanism exists to ensure our rights – whatever they may be – are given whatever protection the law turns out to require.

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