Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Preventive Detention

Yesterday, I posted on an upcoming Supreme Court case which will address the government's challenge to habeas corpus (scroll down to "Another Test..."). Today, the NY Times has an article on governmental misuse of the Material Witness statute which allows for holding a witness to a crime in detention if the witness is a flight risk. What the government has done is to stretch the law to allow for the holding of an individual without charge for extended periods of time even if it is clear that the individual is not a material witness.

A 22-year-old federal law that allows people to be held without charges if they have information about others' crimes is coming under fresh scrutiny in the courts, in Congress and within the Justice Department after reports that it has been abused in terrorism investigations.

The law allows so-called material witnesses to be held long enough to secure their testimony if there is reason to think they will flee. But lawyers for people detained as material witnesses say the law has been used to hold people who the government fears will commit terrorist acts in the future but whom it lacks probable cause to charge with a crime.

...A bill introduced by Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, would curtail the use of the material witness law to hold people suspected of plotting terrorist acts. Representative Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, said he would introduce similar legislation in the House.

"It's being stretched beyond its original purpose," Mr. Flake said of the material witness law. "Individuals are being indefinitely detained who might be suspects. If that's the case, they need to be charged."
[Emphasis added]

Once again the current regime is using the threat of terrorism to justify holding people without charge in violation of the Constitution. In an uncited part of the article, Rep. Flake made it clear that if the government needed a preventive detention law, Congress would be happy to provide one. All this does is stop the misuse of one law while enabling the violation of the civil liberties of citizens by another.

I keep waiting for the Democrats in Congress to wake up to the fact that this kind of Congressional collusion in the stripping away of our rights is madness and points to the end of the special democracy of this nation. If they don't awaken soon, we may have to find those who will.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You put so much work into this site. It is always quality material and your insights are often quite powerful. Thank You.

12:49 PM  

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