About Time

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A federal appeals court has ruled that the Bush administration cannot conduct secret trials in the name of the "war on terrorism."

The Washington Post reports that the opinion from the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

in the case of Michigan activist Rabih Haddad marked the first time since Sept. 11 that a major component of the Bush administration’s legal approach to the anti-terrorism campaign has been declared unconstitutional at the appeals court level, which is a step below the Supreme Court in the federal judicial hierarchy.

As senior Judge Damon J. Keith wrote,

The Executive Branch seeks to uproot people’s lives, outside the public eye, and behind a closed door. Democracies die behind closed doors. The First Amendment, through a free press, protects the people’s right to know that their government acts fairly, lawfully, and accurately in deportation proceedings.

Well put.

It’s about time that the Bush administration’s loony restrictions on American liberties were placed in check.

Since September 11, Americans have been told not to question the government. When postal workers died of anthrax, representatives of the postal service dared to state on national television that it was an inappropriate time to question their decision to send workers into potentially toxic environments.

Try that in the private sector, and see how quickly your business is shut down. Not the time to question authority, indeed!

The government must bear heavy blame for September 11 and for the foreign policy blunders since that time. It is the federal government which "guaranteed" airline safety, and which recklessly pursued a pro-Israel policy in the Middle East (even though the Vatican has condemned Israel as aggressors against the Palestinians).

It is the federal government that, in the wake of September 11, has resorted to interrogating old women and harassing peaceful American citizens, rather than sensibly targeting Arabic travelers or restricting immigration.

It is also the federal government which remains committed to the supreme folly of believing it can create "peace in our time" by making war on Afghanistan and al Qaeda.

Consider the following item, also from the Washington Post:

Central Asia’s leaders consider the U.S. presence here the inauguration of a new era. Islam Karimov, the uncompromising leader of Uzbekistan, was held at arm’s length by the United States for years because of his authoritarian policies. He now sees himself as an important U.S. ally. Since his friendly visit with President Bush last spring and the signing of a formal agreement committing the United States to respond to “any external threat” to Uzbekistan, Karimov said in an interview, his country has “a strategic partnership with the United States.”

The thugs of yesterday are the allies of today. How this is supposed to be a good idea is beyond me. It is, additionally, odd that the United States would agree to protect Uzbekistan from "any external threat. So much for George Washington’s warning against "entangling alliances," and so much for the lessons of pre-World War One Europe.

The Post further reports that Kathleen Collins, a professor at Notre Dame, has opined that Central Asia is "not in transition to democracy, but…heading down a political and economic trajectory that can only be called sharply negative.”

Central Asia is not where American tax dollars should be spent. What is the benefit to American national interests of the estimated $5 billion spent on our mission to Afghanistan each month?

The Bush administration, despite the facts of its involvement in Afghanistan, dares to criticize corporations for fraudulent accounting.

The Sixth Circuit’s opinion is a welcome obstacle on the road to disaster traveled by the Bush administration.

Mr. Dieteman [send him mail] is an attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a PhD candidate in philosophy at The Catholic University of America.

© 2002 David Dieteman

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