Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

When we let the executive branch muck about with due process...

One of the reasons democratic societies insist that their governments respect due process and civil rights is to avoid unintended consequences for innocent people.

The main story:

There are reports afternoon that the American, Nick Berg, who was brutally beheaded by Al Qaeda terrorists was arrested and detained without due process by US forces holding him for two weeks. When he was released the Iraqi security situation was deteriorating and he was kidnapped by Al Qaeda while he was attempting to leave Iraq. Mr. Berg was arrested by Coalition authorities in a "sweep" operation near Mosul. He was held without access to lawyers, family or other outside persons or organizations.

His family tried to find out where he was when his communications with them suddenly stopped on March 24th six days before he planned to leave the country. They claim they got little cooperation from Federal authorities in the United States. However, the FBI did "interview" the family about Mr. Berg's reasons for being in Iraq on March 31st. In early April the Berg family filed suit against the US Defense Department. Berg was released on April 6th and was kidnapped by Al Qaeda on April 9th.

To say that this guy got cruelly abused from every side is understatement to the point of almost being crass. Had Coalition authorities given him his constitutionally guaranteed access to a lawyer or at least to his family, he might have been released earlier and/or released into the company of friends instead of dumped alone into a chaotic war zone a week after he had planned to leave the country. I'm not blaming the US authorities for something Al Qaeda did. Clearly, Al Qaeda bares responsibility for his cruel murder. However, that murder doesn't change the fact that the US controlled "coalition authorities" violated this man's rights in a way that - unintentionally I hope - set in motion that chain of events.

Another story:

I heard on MSNBC yesterday that the family of one of the US soldiers filmed abusing Iraqi prisoners has also complained that the soldier was detained incommunicado for weeks. Family members in the US tried unsuccessfully to find out what had happened to their relative through US State and Defense departments as well as the Red Cross. The soldier was eventually given access to a lawyer just before CBS broke the story of abuses in the prison.

This soldier was not an "enemy combatant." His alleged crimes are indeed against Iraqis who are classified as "enemy combatants."

Does anyone else see these two cases as alarming evidence that we have begun the great slide down the slippery slope to tyranny?

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