The Thought is not Enough
November 28, 2001
Ashcroft is worried about blacklisting the detainees now.
He's worried that if he says who they are, that it'll violate
their right to secrecy.
With all due respect, which frankly, these days, is not very
much, it is not Ashcroft's bleeping job to worry about that.
This is a request by Congress, otherwise known as the democratically
elected body that the ENTIRE Executive Branch, not just the
President, answers to. Once Congress demands names like this,
it ought to be Congress' responsibility, and fault, if the
names are leaked out. It is not Ashcroft's business to deny
these names and to then, in the same breath, claim that the
detentions are not secret.
Forget irony. This is satire. I'd like to know how someone
is not being detained in secret if his lawyer does not know
where he is (as such incidents have been reported in several
portions of the media.)
It's not Bush's job to declare war because Congress refuses
It is not Bush's job to administer military justice.
It is not Rumsfeld's job to draft regulations for military
These jobs all belong to Congress.
Yes, Congress. Yes, that Congress, which nearly impeached
Clinton. Yes, that Congress, which has been reviled for cowardice,
disrespected for ineffectiveness, renounced for its inability
to get things done. THAT Congress.
Thinking of the greater good is not enough. There is a firm
separation of powers in the Republic, and it is not being
adhered to. That is a very, very serious problem, one caused
by the Executive Branch's zeal.
It is not the President's job to try people. Anyone. For
any reason. Anywhere. His right is to pardon, not to convict
The Constitution's protections of due process were indended
to apply to all persons having their liberty taken away by
the Federal Government. Persons, not citizens. As non-soldiers,
Taliban and Al Qaeda troops have every much a right to be
tried in a civilian court as a normal American citizen. Read
over that last sentence. I am not kidding. This is the law.
It is not the place of the Executive Branch to void portions
of the Constitution that they do not like, citing the exigencies
It is not the place of the Executive Branch to seize power
from properly functioning civilian bodies (see: military tribunals
in Hawaii, which were used for five years, and civilian courts
deliberately closed down and tribunals used in their stead
for normal law enforcement).
It is not the place of the Executive Branch to create military
tribunals when not in a state of war and when such tribunals
were not explicitly approved by Congress (which was the case
in the saboteur incident).
It is not the place of the Executive Branch to treat any
human being as someone who has no rights whatsoever.
It is not the place of the Executive Branch to decide that
foreigners are to be denied due process.
These are not powers constitutionally and lawfully possessed
by the Executive Branch. Some are arguably not deniable even
by Congress, though most probably could be done for a limited
time, citing the exigencies of war (which we are not in, officially
and, more critically, lawfully). However, while what Congress
could take away is unclear, it is very clear that the President
has vastly exceeded his constitutional, legal, and moral authority.
The only remedy is for Congress to be encouraged, from the
activist level on up (this means you), to take back its constitutional
obligation, not merely a right or a freedom, but the obligation,
to check and balance the lust for power of the Executive Branch.
That is their job.
No one can do it for them.
That is why it is utterly sickening for men like Ashcroft
to claim they are doing Congress' job for it, and thus, should
So much for upholding the laws he didn't like. That sure
didn't last very long, did it?
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