Monday, June 11, 2007

The Right to a Trial

A majority opinion from the 4th District Court of Appeals today concluded in Al-Marri vs. Wright that U.S. Citizens could not be named enemy combatants and held indefinitely without charges or a trial. For all practical purposes, they said that American citizens have a right to a fair and open trial by a jury of their peers, to hear the evidence presented against them, and to respond accordingly.

(I wonder where they got those ideas?)

However, one judge, Henry R. Hudson, dissented from this conclusion.

For all practical purposes, Judge Henry argued, that since the accused is guilty, we do not need a trial.

Like Padilla, al-Marri, an identified al Qaeda associate, was dispatched to the United States by the September mastermind as a “sleeper agent” and to explore computer hacking methods to disrupt the United States’ financial system. Moreover, al-Marri volunteered for a martyr mission on behalf of al Qaeda, received funding from a known terrorist financier, and communicated with known terrorists by phone and e-mail . . . . Although al-Marri was not personally engaged in armed conflict with U.S. forces, he is the type of stealth warrior used by al Qaeda to perpetrate terrorist acts against the United States.

Yet, the very purpose of a trial is to determine if there is indeed enough evidence to hold a person. The reason for objecting to these procedures is that the impose a risk of the government rounding people up under false pretenses and holding them indefinitely.

If these are indeed facts, then let these facts be presented in a court of law. Then al-Marri can be held legitimately, while protecting and preserving the principles of a fair trial written into moral law and the Constitution. In other words, if these can be proved, then what is the worry over a trial?

Much like the government might invade another country under false pretenses - or under intelligence so faulty that what the Administration originally said was certain proved to be entirely false.

After this Administration's dismal performance when it comes to getting the facts right, I think we have a particularly strong case for demanding that we see the evidence before we imprison a person for life.

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