Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hornberger?s Commentary
The government?s arguments at Court of Appeals hearing in the Jose Padilla case confirm the extreme dangers that we here at FFF have been warning about for the past three years. The government lawyers told the 3-judge panel that the entire United States is part of the worldwide battleground in the government?s ?war on terrorism,? entitling U.S. military forces to seize any American (or foreigner) anywhere in the United States and treat him as an ?unlawful combatant.?

Now, combine that with the recent D.C. Court of Appeals decision (Note: pdf) (in which new Supreme Court nominee John Roberts ruled in favor of the government), where a 3-judge panel unanimously (1) upheld the government?s ?unlawful combatant? denomination; and (2) held that the protections of the Geneva Convention don?t apply to suspected terrorists; and (3) upheld the government?s power to punish suspected terrorists through the use of military commissions (despite the fact that their kangaroo Soviet-like procedures bear no resemblance whatsoever to trials under the U.S. Constitution in U.S. district court).

What does all this add up to? As we?ve been saying ever since Padilla was arrested, a ruling in favor of the government in the Padilla case would mean: The U.S. military, which claims to be subservient to the American citizenry, would now have the power to seize any American, lock him away incommunicado, ship him to Gitmo or Uzbekistan or Egypt, torture, rape, sexually abuse him, or murder him, or execute him after a kangaroo military proceeding whose only purpose will be to cloak the murder with the trappings of judicial proceedings. And without any fear of federal court interference or application of the U.S. Constitution.

As we have been repeatedly stating, such power, if ultimately upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Padilla case or by the U.S. Supreme Court when the Padilla case gets there, would constitute the most ominous transformation in American life since our nation?s inception,