Just about everybody else has weighed in on Karl Rove’s remarks, where he called a goodly proportion of the American public unpatriotic and alluded to them being treasonous.
I found an old book in my house called “The American Political System and How it Works”, originally written in 1954. It reads like the most typical civics class you’ve probably ever had, and I was struck by this paragraph (page 18):
Referring to the Constitution of the United States –
The right of habeas corpus was guaranteed, to protect the people from arbitrary imprisonmnet by the police, such as we have seen in many totalitarian countries
The book is full of similar attitudes of superiority, mostly directed against the Soviets, comparing how the American system of governance was much fairer and more just than theirs. 51 years later of course, the Soviets are gone into the dust of history and… well our sense of superiority is rapidly vanishing.
I decided to look at the U.S. Constitution, about the most American document you can find. Literally. All quotes come from the U.S. House of Representatives‘ official website, while the link still works.
Article I, Section 9, Clause 2:
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
The last (and first) time that the government of the United States suspended this privilege was during the Civil War, which is clearly a case of “rebellion”. This was done on September 24, 1862 in an open and non-secret presidential proclamation:
That the Writ of Habeas Corpus is suspended in respect to all persons arrested, or who are now, or hereafter during the rebellion shall be, imprisoned in any fort, camp, arsenal, military prison, or other place of confinement by any military authority of by the sentence of any Court Martial or Military Commission.
Even though it seems like Lincoln had a clear-cut case of being able to suspend Habeas Corpus (nation being involved in a rebellion), the Supreme Court ruled that the suspension was unconstitutional because civilian courts were still operating.
So tell me, dear Karl Rove, how George Bush has the ability to suspend habeas corpus when the nation is suffering neither a rebellion nor an invasion AND that civilian courts are operating and functional AND that no presidential proclamation has even been issued? How is blatantly violating the Constitution being patriotic or even American?
Even if one were to say that the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are neither citizens nor did they commit any acts on American soil (and therefore do not fall under the jurisdiction of American law), how can you deny that Jose Padilla is being held unconstitutionally? He is an American citizen, the same as you or I. He was arrested on American soil. The U.S. Constituton should apply to him, and if it doesn’t, whom else does it not apply to?
Let’s look at that American Constitution a little more shall we? Article III, Section 2, Clause 3:
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Well I don’t think anyone is arguing that Jose Padilla can be impeached, since he doesn’t hold any public office. Therefore if he committed a crime, including a conspiracy to commit a crime (which is in itself a crime), there where exactly is his trial being held?
Article III, Section 3, Clause 1:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Except that Jose Padilla hasn’t even been charged with treason. Maybe he did commit treason, maybe he was thinking about adhering to the enemies of the United States, but he hasn’t been convicted of anything. That’s because he hasn’t been charged with anything. And he certainly hasn’t confessed to anything in open court because he hasn’t gone to court.
And that’s just the violations of the U.S. Constitution that you, Karl Rove, and your boss, George Bush, have committed. This doesn’t even take into consideration the numerous subsequently established rights, such as the right to counsel, that you have denied to an American citizen on the territory of the United States.
What about the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution?
No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law
Jose Padilla was “arrested”, although I hate to use that word since “detained by security forces” is a better verb, in May of 2002. It is now the end of June 2005. For three years Jose Padilla has been denied his fundamental rights as enshrined by the U.S. Constitution, the most American institution there is. So remind me once again, who is more anti-American that those who would act unconstitutionally Mr. Rove?