June 15th, 2002, 12:53 AM
Jose Padilla's civil rights
Okay, probably most of you have heard about Jose Padilla and his alleged plans to carry out a "dirty bomb" attack on the US. If you haven't, check pretty much any newspaper for details. Anyway, the U.S. government is holding him in a military prison while denying him the civil rights allotted to him by the US constitution. The constitution clearly states that the government may not take away any citizen's life, liberty, or property without due process of law-- it's in the fifth amendment. This is exactly what the Bush administration is doing right now. Padilla is a citizen of the United States, whether or not he is a terrorist. I understand that in this case, it probably saved thousands of lives to detain this man unlawfully, but if he is indeed guilty then what harm could it do to give him a trial or at least a hearing? Bush has declared him an "enemy combatant" and has used this to rationalize this decision.
The problem is that if Bush can do that to Padilla, he can do it to just about anyone. I am by no means a supporter of Padilla; I think he's probably getting what he deserves. But in the future, say some political activist is openly bashing the president and he doesn't like it. All he has to do is declare this individual an "enemy combatant" and he can hold this individual indefinitely without any sort of trial. This situation is almost Orwellian in nature. The constitution gives no provision for the use of this "enemy combatant" b.s. except to say that the president can do stuff like that if it's necessary. We shouldn't repeat the stupidity that we showed when we allowed the US government to put Japanese-Americans in internment camps in the second world war. This is actually a worse situation anyway- the President can do this to any individual on a mere whim.
Who knows who the next person- the next VICTIM- is going to be? We should put a stop to this. At least give the moron a trial before you give him the death penalty... Otherwise, we may find that in the future, the constitution is meaningless.