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04/19/2004 Archived Entry: ""American tradition of fairness to prisoners""

"THE AMERICAN TRADITION OF FAIRNESS TO PRISONERS." Pat sent this USA Today article this morning -- about the upcoming Supreme Court cases to determine whether any of Bush's endlessly "detained" "enemy combatants" (both U.S. citizen and non-citizen) have legal rights. There's nothing particularly new in the article; it contains a surprising amount of fluff for coverage of such a serious topic. That's just the thing, though. In all her lengthy presentation of the issues, reporter Joan Biskupic never once mentions the Bill of Rights or the fact that the Bill -- the highest law of the land -- requires a whole raft of rights to jury trials, counsel, facing accusers, etc. Instead, all that is reduced to "the American tradition of fairness to prisoners."

Tradition? Excuse me. The right to a fair trial ranks slightly higher than Easter baskets or fireworks on the Fourth of July.

The reporter also talks blandly and repeatedly about the precedents of wartime justice -- without seeming to notice that no war has been declared. Or without mentioning why it's somehow okay to get rid of civil liberties during times of trouble.

More cheerily, Pat asks:

If U.S. citizens can be labeled "enemy combatants" (at President's will), does that mean we are not considered "citizens" at all? If geographical areas (of birth) can be ignored by govt., can they also be ignored by libertarians who can claim "we are not U.S. citizens, we are free citizens of the world and can live where we choose"?

She answers her own question, though. "That door only swings one way."

Posted by Claire @ 11:35 AM CST

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