Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Something About the Argument Does Not Work

For more than five years the Bush Administration has been trying to roll back the civil rights of people charged with crimes. Essentially, the argument goes that there are certain crimes that the regular criminal justice system just absolutely cannot handle. Therefore, the Executive Branch must be able to make determinations in each case as to whether the a crime should be handled by the criminal justice, with all the rights accorded under the U.S. Constitution, and when you end up in a special federal prison, with extremely curtailed rights.

So far, the argument does not seem to work. Zacarias Moussaui is currently spending a life sentence in prison for his terrorist activities. And then two days ago, Demetrius Crocker was convicted of planning to use a dirty bomb.

Interestingly enough, this was a case that was conducted entirely as criminal matter from the begining by all accounts. A retired sheriff's deputy tipped off the local authorities who asked for, and received, help from the FBI. After taking the time to make sure that this was an actual crime, and not the harmless ravings and plotting of a deranged individual, he was arrested and brought to trial. There was no Navy Brig, nor military commission. Instead, he was convicted by a jury of twelve people on al lcounts which he was indicted.

So let's see, two major terrorism cases that have gone to trial. Prosecutors, despite the Bush Administration's intereference in the Moussaui case, managed to get convictions on both of them, putting both of the men away for significant terms in jail.

On the other hand, we have the ongoing embarrasment which is the Jose Padilla case. Based on the flings, he has been kept in conditions which we do not condone in other nations. And yet, we are not closer to bringing a close to his case.

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