Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Riffing on the idea that "Terrorists have no rights"

Started in a Glen Greenwald article. The idea is that terrorists have no Due Process rights. Due Process is a term that most people are unfamiliar with but one that has an enormous amount of importance in both the American and English judicial systems. "Due Process" seems like a boring term, but you have to ask yourself: Due Process of what? The answer gives an idea of just what magnitude violating Due Process entails.

The idea is that the government cannot deprive anyone of life, liberty, or property without Due Process, that is to say without cause and an opportunity to appeal it. Due Process is a catch all term for all of the rights in the Bill of Rights. When the government infringes on a person's First Amendment rights they're denying their Due Process rights based on what statute, i.e. the Bill of Rights, has established as a recognized right that has to be respected by the government. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, on down the board are protected from infringement by the government by Due Process. Due Process also covers rights from beyond the Bill of Rights that have been enacted through legislation. For instance, gay marriage. Due Process also adapts to changing societal mores or values; for instance, segregation was struck down as a violation of Due Process by the States. With Guantanamo Bay, the idea is that they're depriving the inmates of liberty, by putting them in prison, without any sort of hearing and without any sort of adherence to either international or U.S. law. Following the imprisonment goes the violation of prisoners rights in how they're treated while in prison, i.e. torture. In other words, Due Process is a big fucking deal and when you see a denial of it being justified you should freak out.

If Due Process as a value is diluted in the United States it paves the way for totalitarian government and dictatorship, where the government can do anything to you with no protections for you from it and no way for you to fight it.

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