You’re an American citizen, and you have certain rights, right? For instance, unlike totalitarian countries, you cannot be arrested and held without charges being brought against you, the right to legal counsel, a bail hearing, and various other protections for those who have been charged, but not convicted.

But when the commentators said September 11 changed everything, they were sure right – your constitutional rights, which have evolved over centuries, got tossed. Now, all the government has to do is to charge you with terrorism, and all those rights – the rights that provide individuals protection against arbitrary government action – are so much dust into the dustbin.

Case in point: Terrorist suspect Jose Padilla – not charged with any crime, but held on suspicion of plotting a radioactive bomb attack against the US. And before you jump to the Rageback section to tell us what idiots we are for defending the rights of a terrorist, remember that, as of right now, he isn’t a terrorist – he is simply someone arrested by the government, but not tried by any judge or jury. Padilla was born in the US and is an American citizen who was arrested in the US. The only information you have about Jose Padilla is the information provided by the government and disseminated by the media. It’s also wise to keep in mind that “fighting terrorism” has now become the global buzz phrase to justify any sort of violence, and enemies of any government are now routinely referred to as “terrorists.”

Let’s be clear about the Outrage position – if Padilla is proven guilty,we hope he gets tossed to the sharks for piecemeal mutilation. The act that he may be guilty of is so evil that it is hard to imagine any punishment that would be too harsh – but only after he is convicted,according to the normal legal due process. And that may never happen,if you listen to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld: “We’re not interested in trying him at the moment,” said Rumsfeld, traveling in Qatar. “We’re not interested in punishing him at the moment.” We’re not arguing that Padilla be released – simply that he be charged and tried like any other suspect.

Innocent until proven guilty is the very bedrock of the American legal system, and the countries we fight against are the ones that arrest people, keep them in jail, and never bring charges. That’s the sort of thing done in Castro’s Cuba, Stalin’s Soviet Union, or Mao’s China -not in the US. To the extent that we give up the fundamental rights of the individual, the battle is already lost – there is no point in fighting if we’re going to adopt the same weapons as our enemies. If this is the way we fight the War on Terrorism, we’ve already declared defeat.


To read more about the Jose Padilla case see:

U.S. labs eyed for bomb material


Feds Say Dirty Bomb Suspect Plotted Other Attacks:

Gov’t: Padilla Was al-Qaida Protege:

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We are, of course, amazed that our readers occasionally disagree with our brilliant and witty essays. In fact, sometimes quite a few readers think that The Outrage editors are wrong, misanthropic, idiotic, selfish, deluded, or all of the above.

Mother Outrage always told us that even the dull and the ignorant should have their say, so we've allowed space below for those dissenting opinions (and for shameless flattery).

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