On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Oh, No – Not Habeas Corpus

In zipping around the ‘Net in the recent past I noticed some winger asking what he felt was the burning question: “Do you want Osama bin Laden to have the right to habeas corpus?”

The question shows a basic ignorance of what the “Great Writ” really means, and how much a part of the judicial process it is.

I was in law enforcement for a decade and satisfied the conditions of the writ every time I arrested anyone.  All it means is that within a specified time, which may differ between states, I had to charge someone with a crime or release them.  Normally several things were accomplished at a preliminary hearing, the person was charged, satisfying the requirements of the Writ, and bail was set.

I have to assume that there are already existing warrants and indictments on file for Osama bin Laden, and that he would be remanded to custody without bail based on his evading those warrants, history of violence, known wealth, and international network.  Five minutes of court time via a video link, tops, for the whole procedure.

The problem is not with people who are known to have committed crimes, it is with the hundreds of people who were “hoovered up” in the Middle East based on little or no evidence.  Years later they haven’t been charged with anything.  In many cases they aren’t guilty of anything.  These are the people who really need access to the writ of habeas corpus, this is the situation the writ was designed to remedy.

6 comments

1 Michael { 06.21.08 at 11:52 pm }

Indeed.

2 Steve Bates { 06.22.08 at 12:11 am }

Did the winger really spell “habeas” correctly? That would be a first in my experience.

It is dismaying to contemplate how many Americans haven’t a clue about the significance of the Great Writ… and how long before America’s founding our ancestors established it. Those who would simplify everything to “us vs. them” seem to have no idea the peril in which they place the nation.

3 Bryan { 06.22.08 at 12:29 am }

The basic problem would appear to be that people don’t have any idea what these rights are, and that there are a lot of people being held who haven’t done anything.

Every time Guantanamo is discussed the Hedgemony talks about “the worst of the worst”, but not about a half dozen sheepherders who fled China and were living in Afghanistan because of religious prosecution. They don’t talk about the old Afghani who is deaf, half-blind, and uses a walker. They don’t talk about the in-laws who were sold for the bounties, or the tribal rivals, or the anti-Taliban insurgents, or any of the others who have been stuck in limbo for 6 years.

Face it, on sober reflection we have arrested al Qaeda barbers, chauffeurs, and travel agents, not operatives. These are the people who have actually been shown to be connected to the organization.

It is very possible that their big catch, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is delusional, and not the “mastermind” behind anything, including himself.

The real problem is that they have poisoned all of their evidence with torture, and they don’t want that revealed in court.

4 Kryten42 { 06.22.08 at 1:42 am }

Most of the real villains were recently rescued from their prison in Afghanistan under the nose of US forces. I am sure the Russians and most of the EU are laughing themselves silly, not to mention the Taliban of course! I am sure their recruitment is up considerably.

Many of those in Gitmo were dobbed in by people with an axe to grind for their own personal motive. The US did no checking or verification whatsoever. And that’s the true crime.

I see the EU just voted to suspend sanctions against Cuba finally. 🙂 The US is obviously still the real power on the World stage. LMAO

5 mapaghimagsik { 06.23.08 at 3:20 pm }

Its amazing — no not amazing that simple things like habeas, which made perfect sense hundreds of years ago, are so confusing now. Of course, it helps when there are people who are deliberately trying to confuse the issue.

6 Bryan { 06.23.08 at 5:05 pm }

It would appear that my original response to you, Kryten, ended up in the bit bucket.

It was just an admission that these people make the Keystone Kops look professional. If you can’t come up with a charge that a judge will buy in a couple of days, you aren’t much of a cop, or you don’t have any idea who you arrested. I think it’s a lot of both.

Map, habeas is so easy to comply with, so automatic, that the only reason for avoiding it is that you literally have no evidence of anything. There are people released from pre-trial detention in Florida all the time because they have been in jail the maximum sentence in the guidelines for the crime they are accused of. The court system is a mess with too few judges, courtrooms, and attorneys, so if you can’t or won’t make bail, you literally can serve the sentence before the trial.