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Matt Hale an enemy combatant?

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Matt Hale an enemy combatant?

you don't have to like him
to protect our own rights

Whatever you think about Matt Hale, the recent arrest came as no surprise. His strange saga first brought national attention when his application to practice law was denied by the Illinois Supreme Court's Committee on Character and Fitness. Most of the public would consider him an avowed racist and his "World Church of the Creator" a bizarre sect. But this account is not about the merits or falsehoods of his politics or doctrine. He is charged with a crime, according to the New York Times - Law enforcement officials with Chicago's Joint Terrorism Task Force said Mr. Hale had crossed the line when he asked another person to "forcibly assault and murder" Judge Lefkow.

It should be a given that efforts to commit murder are morally wrong. But we live within the protection of a legal system that presumes innocence until proven guilty beyond a shadow of doubt. Or at least we are told that is the standard . . .  Lefkow has been presiding over the trademark case involving Hale's use of the name World Church of the Creator. The particulars in this case are secondary to the story. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, has it correct, when he says the "conduct alleged in this indictment is disturbing on many levels, but particularly so because it targeted a judge, whose sworn duty is to apply the law equally and fairly to all who appear before her."

In the past the ACLU would take up Free Speech charges related to unsavory characters. Since their evolution into an anti-god advocacy, their likelihood to champion such dissenters is remote. While the immediate indictment against Hale was issued by a grand jury, Hale asserted: “I never urged anyone to commit a crime and I am completely abiding by the law on a daily basis.”  Based on the specific charges, the First Amendment seems moot; while Amendment XIV, due process would certainly apply.

Now review the decision of the three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond., Va. Those judges affirms President Bush's authority to detain indefinitely American citizens captured in foreign battles or those who participate in terrorist attacks against U.S. interests. The appeals decision overturned a lower court's ruling that 22-year-old Yaser Esam Hamdi, a Louisiana native captured last year in Afghanistan, must see the government's evidence supporting its claims that he fought with al-Qaida and Taliban forces against the United States. Since that decision stopped short of approving those same powers over American citizens arrested on U.S. soil, one would think that the issue ends at the waters edge. Or does it?

The importance of Yaser Esam Hamdi or Matt Hale lies with their families and friends, but their significance in the law, applies to all of us. Or at least it should! However, since the enactment of the Patriot Act, the lines of  “Due Process” no longer exist for anyone, who has the misfortune to be labelled an enemy combatant. In an era of unbridled government usurpation of reach and scope, is there any doubt that the such a designation will soon apply to selective alleged crimes, committed on home ground, by rebellious citizens when it suits the ‘War of Terror’ on America.

Here is a resolution from students of the Milton Academy. They have it right. Just substitute your name for Hamdi and Padilla. A Resolution Prohibiting the Detention of US Citizens as Enemy Combatants

Whereas: Yassir Hamdi and José Padilla have been detained as enemy combatants, despite the fact that they are United States citizens,  And

Whereas: The detention of citizens in such a manner denies them of their right to due process and equal protection, guaranteed  in the Constitution, And

Whereas: The President maintains that he may detain enemy combatants indefinitely without access to counsel, And

Whereas: United States Code Title 18 Section 4001 (a) states that “no citizen may be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress” And

Whereas: The continued detention of US citizens as enemy combatants sets a disturbing precedent that may easily be abused, especially given the indefinite nature of the current “war on terrorism.”

Therefore, Be It Resolved by this Student Congress here assembled that the President does not have the right to detain United States citizens as enemy combatants.

If citizenship is now defined as having arbitrary application of rights and protections, the definition of what an enemy combatant is,  becomes subject to the same discretion of courts, politicians and bureaucrats. In 'Combatants' Lack Rights, U.S. Argues - by Washington Post staff writers Tom Jackman and Dan Eggen, we get a warning about the sharp departure from Constitutional safeguards. They write about the Hamdi case, that some legal scholars compared the filing to arguments used by the government during World War II to intern thousands of Japanese Americans. "This is really an astounding assertion of authority," said David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor.

"It's not just that you have no right to a lawyer, it's that you have no right to even have a hearing. . . . If that is true, then there is really no limit to the president's power to label U.S. citizens as bad people and then have them held in military custody indefinitely."

Robert A. Levy from the Cato Institute addresses the Padilla case. “The Constitution does not distinguish between the protections extended to ordinary citizens on one hand and unlawful-combatant citizens on the other”.

“Without either constitutional or statutory authority, the administration has decided that it will set the rules, prosecute infractions, determine guilt or innocence, then review the results of its own actions. That's too much unchecked power in the hands of the executive branch -- making a mockery of the doctrine of separation of powers that has been a cornerstone of our Constitution for two-and-a-quarter centuries.”

Now that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wants to be their own ‘Rocket Docket’ for unlimited state exploration of previously restricted space, we are all in danger of a new challenger explosion. What Levy attributed to the Bush executive branch, has now received the blessing of a ‘star chamber tribunal’.

Relate this precedent now fixed back to Matt Hale, the stretch is not far to depict him or others that fall outside the boundaries of docile government servants, as enemies of the state. If he acted with intent to cause harm to a judge, he gets no sympathy from us. But if his only offence is to confront the ‘PC’ system, doesn’t he deserve the same protections of the Constitution as any American citizen? Remember your answer to this question, especially when judges like Joan Humphrey Lefkow rule on subsequent government efforts to broaden the definition for an enemy combatant. The meaning and intent of the Constitution can be understood easily. Due Process applies to all citizens. If it doesn’t, what kind of country is it?  The words of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, applies to judges and to Courts of Appeal. Let’s us all hope the Supreme Court will restore justice for all.

SARTRE - January 10, 2003

A judge is not supposed to know anything about the facts of life until they have been presented in evidence and explained to him at least three times.
Lord Chief Justice Parker

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