Saturday, September 10, 2005

Courting Terror, or ACL-You've Gotta Be Kidding Me!

"Won't somebody please think about the Enemy Combatants?"

Never was there such a source for blog fodder as the ACLU. Jose Padilla, the press-dubbed "Dirty Bomber," has been sitting in a Navy brig in SC for three years now. He was declared an enemy combatant, and no sooner than did the ink dry but the legal eagles sprang to his defense. I bring this up when people lay the "well, no matter the crime, a person should have due process" line on me. Maybe, but maybe if you're a terrorist we should skip bail hearing? The "conservative" 4th Circuit of Appeals (that's two Clinton appointees and one Bush 41 judge) said "no way Jose" and left Padilla in that brig. Here's the article in the, yuck, Boston Globe, and Powerline has a brief, albeit truncated, summary. Basically, 1) Congress gave Bush the power to go after Al Queda, and 2) Padilla is just like Yaser Hamdi, a US citizen snagged as an EC fighting with the Taliban, just Padilla was caught here. Now, I know the headlines will read "BUSH CAN EAT YOUR CHILD," but let me point out a couple of things.

I. Padilla wasn't just caught here. He was caught coming off a plane ride from Pakistan. Nobody seems to be arguing over whether he was a member of the Al Queda glee club nor that he was here to commit a terror attack. Plus, they got him as he was stepping off the plane! They literally caught him on a mission. Hooray! Intel actually did something right (I hope)! Assuming all that is true, Padilla is an EC, if not legally, in plain-old horse sense. So, he was caught on American soil, last time I checked American soil was a battleground.

II. Ah, but the more wary reader caught the flaw above--how do we know he's all of those fairly specific things that allow an EC designation unless we run him through our little truth-machine: "the fair trial?" Well, that's kind of the point of Al Queda isn't it? I mean if some invading army hit our shores and we captured one I'd hope that most everyone (except the ACLU, of course, they love this country too much to defend it) would say slap that jerk in a brig until we are done gutting his buddies and firebombing his cities. That's the way everyone's suppose to do it. But now you got invading armies with no uniforms. In fact, one of our biggest luck-outs is that we are not near a Muslim nation--even without uniforms Muslim extremists may not blend--which is probably exactly why Hispanic-American Padilla was recruited to attack us. I don't have a great answer for this, but the civil-liberty types seem to be saying that you give an EC rights and lawyers and phone calls. That's a hell of a way to fight a war.

By the way--and I hate when people do this--Padilla had won at the Second Circuit but as the NY Times is careful to point out: "the Supreme Court said Mr. Padilla should have filed his case in the Fourth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over South Carolina and is more conservative than the Second Circuit [emphasis added]." First of all, they didn't say they ruled. And its not a matter of should, but a matter of MUST. Without jurisdiction a court's finding is worthless, this is what keeps the 9th Circuit from declaring itself the source of all law in the universe. Lastly, "more conservative" is a little off here since conservative and liberal mean different things when applied to judges. To suggest otherwise leaves a sting of politicization in my mouth that makes me want to break something.

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