Friday, July 20, 2012

The Death of Due Process

Noam Chomsky has an interesting read on the “Shredding of Our Fundamental Rights” and more. He tends at be a little pedantic at times, but this is eminently readable, and it addresses some important issues.

Eight centuries ago the people of England stood up to their king and established a principle that free men could not be summarily killed by their ruler; not without something called “due process of law” which involved a jury of their peers. It was called the “Magna Carta” and was a charter of liberties. It was later “enriched,” as Noam Chomsky phrases it, by the addition of the Habeas Corpus Act.

The people of this nation have allowed that principle to be reduced to essential meaninglessness, because when Eric Holder said publicly that “due process” could be met by the internal and secret deliberations of the executive, there was a complete absence of public outcry in objection.

There are a number of constitutional bans to the summary execution of American citizens, including the fifth and sixth amendments and, when the charge is treason, Section 3 of Article III of the constitution itself. Yet when the chief executive claims the power to waive those constitutional protections and execute citizens based on parameters which it will not reveal, not Congress, the Judiciary nor public outcry is raised to prevent it. Indeed, such action is praised in the name of “keeping us safe.”

What did the citizens of England have eight hundred years ago that we do not have today? Those people stood up to a king who, at the time, had unlimited power, and said to him, “We will not allow you to kill us.” The citizens of this nation today watch a fellow citizen being summarily executed without the process of law guaranteed to all of us by the constitution of our nation and, cowering in our foxholes, say “Thank you
for keeping us safe.”

The news media is hyperventilating about a dictator in Syria who is “murdering his own people,” but says nothing about the lawless killing of American citizens by this nation’s chief executive which is, apparently, not murder. The reasons why it is not murder are “state secrets” which the executive will not reveal, but the decision to do it was, according to sources close to him, “easy for him to make.”

But, of course, he got “health care reform” passed, so…

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