Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Dangerous Precedent

This recent vote in the Senate really shocked me. The bill that was passed would allow the military to indefinitely detain any American citizen they suspect of terrorism without due process of law. That means no reading of rights, no trial, no lawyer, nothing. And you can be detained for life.

As Benjamin Franklin noted, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither." If we give up the basic human rights guaranteed under our Constitution, there is no way to get them back, at least not easily. And even if you have strict limits on the criteria by which an American citizen can be detained against their rights, then you have to acknowledge that those limits will likely change over time, or the groups like the FBI will find ways to abuse these powers. Look at what happened with the most recent individual that was arrested in New York City after he was found to be making pipe bombs to use against US officials. It was found that the FBI actually encouraged the individual to make these things, provided him with tools and guides on what to do, and essentially drove him to the point where he could be arrested and charged.

Now, consider what would happen if the FBI were allowed to detain anyone they suspected of terrorism without due process of law? They have already shown that they are willing to create their own targets to prove progress.

And the arguments made by those who support this bill are not very good at all. They say that terrorism is alive in America? Well, maybe so, but having people picked up by the government and detained for life is not how you route it out. It's too easy for that power to be abused; it almost begs to be when you think about it. It's like giving the government carte blanche to move against anyone who speaks out against their policies, including their policy of illegaly detaining citizens.

While this may not turn out to be the case, I can't support a bill that directly violates our rights as citizens, no matter how much it's supposed to help. If our intelligence and defense communities need this much power over us to do their job, they're not the best people for the job they have.

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