Saturday, September 10, 2005

Just a quick post to bitch about something that I spotted while reading the Washington Post this morning. Apparently the 4th Circuit, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that during war time, it's ok for the federal government to indefinitely hold U.S. citizens who are siezed on American soil, even when no charges have even been filed against that person.

I know I'm just some silly, whiney criminal defense attorney, but that just ain't right. The guy whose case was in question on this case had been held for three years under suspicion that he might be a terrorist. Even Janet Reno, a woman who is by no account a softie and who used to be the foremost law enforcement official in the country under Clinton, joined a legal team which argued that such detentions were clearly unconstitutional. Man, this is just some ridiculous bullsh*t.
If the government is confident enough to take someone's life and liberty away from them (especially when that person is an American citizen who has been arrested on U.S. soil), the government ought to at least have enough evidence for a showing of probable cause to make an arrest and to file charges.
And I don't want to get into a bunch of legal technicalities, but it doesn't exactly take a slam dunk case to be able to at least be able to file charges against someone (the probable cause standard that is required in order to make the arrest and file charges is a much lower standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is required in order to convict). Judges frequently sign arrest warrants and search warrants after a showing of probable cause, even when the judge has serious doubts about whether enough evidence can be gathered to make the case stick in court (conviction in court requiring proof "beyond a reasonable doubt").
So what I'm saying is, you don't necessarily have to have a ton of evidence to get a case filed against someone, and now the 4th Circuit isn't even going to require that minimum amount of evidence in order for the government to lock a person away for years.
We are living in a time that is governed by fear and hysteria, and someday we will come to be aware and ashamed of the ways in which cowardice has brought us to act against ourselves. Someday the stories will come out (if the government does not effectively suppress them) of people who were wrongfully held for months and/or years in prison because the courts and the American people were duped into giving away our most basic constitutional freedoms and due process- all of this because a tiny band of terrorists tricked us into seeing boogeymen in every shadow for years and years after September 11th.
When the government loses accountability, we lose freedom. It's that simple. And when did all of these courts become so much smarter than the founding fathers and the two and a half centuries of legal precedent that came before them? I don't get it.


Anonymous said...

One of your problems is that you're reading the wrong newspaper.
Try the Washington Times, or WSJ.
a rich r

Anonymous said...

Steano, since no one is reading your blog and I got on here by accident I will comment on the Padilla case as a commonsense person that thinks that in a "time of war" the President should be able to detain al Qaeda trainees that entered this country with the sole purpose of blowing up Americans. Read the Geneva Conv.
In WW2 we executed Nazis that infiltrated the US without a bunch of "out of work attorneys" getting in on the act. a rich r

Anonymous said...

a rich r sounds to me like another one of the thousands of mindless Bush zombies who scream about the bias of the media and then point to a rightwing flagship like the WSJ as the "clear" picture.

Out of work attorney or no, Steanso is, in fact, an attorney. Trying to point to a highly slanted political publication gives you all the credibility of a an Iraqi WMD report. By your logic, we are in a perpetual state of war, and should grant the President perpetual carte blanche to rewrite the constitution to suit his/ her needs.

Where were guys like you after Oklahoma City?

Try not just going by what the WSJ tries to rationalize in order to keep their business-friendly president looking shiny.

You don't love America, a rich r, you love being a thug when it suits your needs and soothes your fears.

-a reader who stumbled onto this blog, too

CrackBass said...

Hmmm. Does anyone here think that the "r" in "a rich r" stands for "a$$hole"? or maybe "stupid a$$hole"? I like to assume this is a joke, and that "a rich r", having obviously read far back enough in this blog to know that the Late Great Steanso is unemployed, has read far back enough to stumble upon the tongue in cheek comparison of fecalphelia to homosexual desires. And only in that toungue in cheek vein "a rich r" is now making a similarly ludicirous assertion that US citizens vaguely accused of crimes are similar in some way to nazis (whom the US needed much more than the veiled rumor of WMD's to attack) and should be killed. Perhaps "a rich r" also longs for the great detention centers of WW2.

I am curious. Are you a texan, rich r? an austinite? a lawyer? how did you stumble across this blog?

and what the hell do you mean "no one is reading your blog"? am i to believe you think those of us here are "no one"s? i challenge you to a duel sir or madam. 20 paces at dawn.

and ps, rich r. - it takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry, it takes a real pussy to post anonymously. and even though i appreciate your sentiment, that goes for you too, defender of the Steanso blog and responder to "a rich r". post as yourself or dont post at all.

crack rocks.

J.S. said...

Are we still at war? I thought Bush declared victory months ago. Now we've got more of a Police Action", which is more akin to Vietnam. Which Nixon also explained was not a war. What we've got going on stateside in this country is more like the blacklists and McCarthyism of the 1950's. The new label being used to turn people into instant criminals (this time not even deserving of a trial) is "terrorist" instead of "communist". Terrorists have become the boogeymen of the Bush administration, and the invocation of that word has become justification for depriving us of the liberties that make it worthwhile to be an American.
I think the fact that the 4th Circuit's ruling about detentions sucks, regardless of which paper reports the findings. That's the thing- if it's REAL news and not some Republican propaganda, it doesn't matter where it comes from (see, there are these things called legal opinions, which don't change, regardless of who reports on them...). And I've worked around law enforcement for years now, and if I've learned anything it's that they make a lot of mistakes. I'm not convinced this kid was gonna blow up anything, and if they're so sure that he was, THEY NEED TO BE ABLE TO PROVE IT WITH EVIDENCE. I'm not saying the govenrment can't still go after terrorists. I'm just saying that maybe they ought to at least have enough confidence in their case to be able to file charges before locking someone away.
I know you feel relatively protected as a wealthy, white American, rich r, but unless we have safeguards that prevent law enforcement from snatching people off the street, the next American citizen who finds themself locked up for 3 years without a trial might be you.