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Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The Enemies List

Step with me if you will onto the slippery slope. I don't tread here often. I prefer a good red herring falacy to a slippery slope. However, there are times when a man as logical as I consider myself must slide down the slope at his own peril. Alright...here we go.

I'm a little concerned about the federal government. There, I said it.

The epiphany comes from the revelation that President Bush has declared a man a so-called "enemy combatant." That means the man that was under prosecution by federal authorities for allegedly assiting terrorists is now no longer afforded due process. He can be locked away in a Charleston, SC Navy brig and kept for just about as long as the military wants to keep him. If you think he'll have access to an attorney, ask dirty bomb suspect Jose Padilla. He's been in the brig waiting to see an attorney for about a year now.

It's not that I don't think these guys are potentially bad men. They very well may be. However, as flawed as our justice system may be, it tends to afford criminal defendants a respectable amount of protection from a potentially corrupt government. Again, don't get me wrong. If these guys did what they are accused of, then throw the book at them. But do it in the open where we all can see it. Sunshine works.

The argument for declaring someone an enemy combatant stands in part on the fact that vital intelligence secrets and/or sources may be leaked if proceedings took place in the sunshine of an open courtroom. It could put operatives at risk. It could allow the enemy to know what we know. That, of course, wouldn't be a good thing.

Now, here's where the slope gets really slippery (it's the same one gun control opponents use from time to time, so be forewarned).

Say we set this precedent. Say we can declare people who seek to commit terrorist acts on American soil enemy combatants. Say a new administration takes over. Say that administration is a little more corrupt than some right-thinking Americans would appreciate. Say it becomes necessary to find ways to work against that administration. Say that government can use its power to declare right-thinking Americans enemy combatants. Just say.

Of course, it would never get to that point. However, it frightens me to consider the power our government has to take an enemy off the face of the earth.

Frankly, this is never going to affect me directly. I'm a good American (hear that Big Brother? I'm a good American! No enemy combatant here! No, sir!).

However, the latest developments in the war against getting our asses blown up...sort of frightens me.

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
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