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.