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Assumed New Powers of Government Mark Death of Liberty

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I was reading an article from about the "US appeals court [upholding the President's] authority to imprison indefinitely a US citizen captured on American soil." The U.S. citizen the article is referring to is José Padilla. From the article:

[T]the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that José Padilla, a suspected al-Qaeda operative who US officials say was planning to carry out a terrorist attack inside the US, could be detained as an "enemy combatant" without any review by US civilian courts.
But the court's ruling... said definitively that Mr Bush had been given such powers by the congressional declaration authorising military force following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

That resolution, the court said, "provided the president all powers necessary and appropriate to protect American citizens from terrorist acts," including the power to detain committed enemies even if they are US citizens.

The first question that should come to the forefront of everyone's mind is, "What powers do congress possess, that they can then delegate to the executive branch? If those powers were granted to congress by We, the People when congress was formed, wouldn't those powers need to conform to the limitations imposed by the Bill of Rights?" Let's look at the resolution that congress passed, giving these "new" powers to the president:

Authorization for Use of Military Force Against September 11 Terrorists

Pub. L. 107-40, Sept. 18, 2001, 115 Stat. 224, provided that:
"Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens; and "Whereas, such acts render it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad; and "Whereas, in light of the threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by these grave acts of violence; and "Whereas, such acts continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States; and "Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States: Now, therefore, be it
"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
"This joint resolution may be cited as the 'Authorization for Use of Military Force'.
"(a) In General. -That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

The only thing I can see in this resolution that remotely looks like granted authority is, "the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force..." I cannot see where Congress empowered the president with new powers. Besides, how could Congress when it never initially possessed those powers? I want to make myself, and this point, perfectly clear. The Bill of Rights, amended to The Constitution of the United States of America, says very clearly that:

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

All of government has a wall built around it by the Bill of Rights. It is not allowed to do those things enumerated in the Bill of Rights. As a matter of fact, the Ninth Amendment goes so far as to say, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This further binds down government. Finally, we can clearly derive the intent and purpose of the Bill of Rights from it's preamble.

We read from the Preamble to the Bill of Rights:

THE Conventions of a number of States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

As anyone can plainly see, government does not have now, nor has it ever had, the authority to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens. Relabeling U.S. citizens as "enemy combatants" is a word-game played by slick lawyers. This sort of tomfoolery doesn't cut it, either.

I say, "Charge Mr. Pidilla with a crime, or release him, NOW!"


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8:19 PM  

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