Rule of Law

February 16, 2011 | By | 5 Replies More

Is this country still under the rule of law? Decreasingly so, even for American citizens. Watch this short discussion about Jose Padilla (on Shepard Smith’s show) and you’ll see shameful conduct and policies Barack Obama has in common with George W. Bush:

The fact that thePatriot Act will be extended is equally incredible. We’re trying really hard to keep up with China on violation of basic human rights.

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Category: Civil Rights, Law

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. Kind of disturbing when FOX News is on the right side of an issue. Although…the last slam from the judge is "That's government," which would seem to paint ALL government as duplicitous, corrupt, and unreliable, which IS consistent with FOX.

    Now if this were a novel, Jose Padilla would be a bad guy SO BAD that the government would have no choice but to keep him locked up whether they have sufficient evidence for court or not. He would be the Darth Vader of sleepers, someone who could not under any circumstances be allowed out.

    If this were a novel…the trouble is, it's not.

    What I actually suspect has happened to the guy, regardless what Bush or Obama have said, is that he's fallen between the cracks of competing agencies, none of whom want the responsibility of kicking him loose. The agency that acts will be the agency that gets saddled with the whole enchillada, so to speak, and will be held accountable for all of this.

  2. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Economist Brad Delong came to a similar conclusion last year, based on the arrogation of power to torture to the executive branch:

    The question is: "Is there hope for the rule of law in America?" My answer is: No.

    The treatment of Padilla is shameful, but no worse than what we are doing to other detainees, even ones who we know are absolutely, completely innocent. Torture, abuse, human experimentation, and indefinite detention is perpetrated to this day by the American government, in contravention of both domestic and international law. The constitution is supposed to protect against this sort of tyranny and abuse of government power, but the entire system of justice has been subverted and there are no clear prospects for getting it back. From the lack of prosecutions for the worst abuses of Wall Street, to the refusal to investigate admitted war criminals, the most heinous abuses of law are now seemingly permissible.

    Is there hope for the rule of law in America? If a scholar of Constitutional law, now serving (ruling?) as President is unwilling to follow the Constitution, what hope do we have?

  3. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Ha! I just remembered that Donald Rumsfeld was recently awarded the "Defender of the Constitution Award" from CPAC, who apparently delight in Orwellian award names. Rumsfeld, you will remember, was the Secretary of Defense named in the Padilla case referenced in the video. Defender of the Constitution indeed!

  4. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Glenn Greenwald makes substantially the same argument:

    In other words, our political officials are Too Important, and engaged in far Too Weighty Matters in Keeping Us Safe, to subject them to the annoyance of the rule of law. It's much more important to allow them to Fight The Terrorists without restraints than to bother them with claims that they broke the law and violated the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. That's the mentality that has resulted in full-scale immunity for both political and now private-sector elites in a whole slew of lawbreaking scandals — from Obama's refusal to investigate Bush-era crimes or high-level Wall Street criminality to retroactive immunity for lawbreaking telecoms and legal protection for defrauding mortgage banks.

    Greenwald's article is noteworthy because he explains the differential treatment of these detainees in the American "Justice" system with the treatment of the same detainees in other countries. For example, Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who was a victim of the US "extreme rendition" program, was sent to Syria to be tortured. His case was dismissed by the US Courts, but on his return to Canada, "the Canadian government published a comprehensive public report detailing its own culpable role (and that of the U.S.) in his wrongful abduction, while the Canadian Prime Minister publicly apologized to Arar and announced that he would be paid $8.9 million in compensation for Canada's role in what happened to him."

    The complete lack of awareness of the blatant hypocrisy in American government these days is the most amazing thing. For example, via the Some Assembly Required blog:

    While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was giving a speech condemning governments that arrest protestors and limit free speech, police and plain clothes officials grabbed a man who was standing up in the audience with his back turned to the Secretary. The 71 year-old man was beaten and dragged from the auditorium.

    Read more on that story here, if you wish.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Brynn: We do seem to have several themes serving as the tectonic plates to American politics: Spin, ignorance, hypocrisy, short-sightedness, waste, corruption, wholesale trashing of individual liberties, outsourcing the power of government to corporations that do banking, telecommunications and insurance. We could start working on remedies to these issues, but the system won't allow it. Not until a whole lot of us start educating ourselves as to what is going on, and saying "No. We won't stand for this anymore." Maybe Wisconsin is a beginning.

    World's greatest country, they say.

    What if Vegas took bets on the U.S. quality of life in 2015 and 2020. What odds would it offer that things are going to get better for us?

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