Monday, March 12, 2012

Eric Holder Tortures the Constitution


From Black Agenda Report
A radio commentary by Glen Ford


Attorney General Holder defended the president’s authority to summarily execute, without sanction of the courts, or formal charges, or even evidence of crime, persons designated by him as enemies of the United States. You can’t get more king-like than that. Holder acted as if he’d found a previously undetected loophole in the Constitution. “‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process,’” he said, “are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security.” According to Holder, “The Constitution guarantees due process,” but it does not guarantee judicial process. In other words, the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee people access to the courts, even if they are targeted for execution.


U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week attempted to explain how the U.S. Constitution allows the American president to be a law unto himself – to be judge, jury and executioner. Those are the powers that President Obama claims are inherent in his office: the right to kill at will, based on evidence only he is fit to examine and assess. This is a system of law without courts, without evidence that either the public or the condemned person has a right to see, or to contest. One man, with the power of life and death over any inhabitant of the planet, including citizens of the United States.
They used to call such people kings. But even the English kings of old – at least since the signing of the Magna Carta 800 years ago – were compelled to recognize the principle that free men could only be punished based on the law of the land. The United States Constitution is rooted in the principle of due process of law, with the courts as final arbiters of whether the law has been served.
With the passage of preventive detention without trail or charge, and President Obama’s claim to have sole power to target any human being for death, the rule of law has been eviscerated, abolished by presidential decree and congressional acquiescence. A pillar of civilization has been toppled, but most people in the United States appear not to have noticed.

It turns out that due process of law is not what we thought it was, these last two centuries. Attorney General Holder defended the president’s authority to summarily execute, without sanction of the courts, or formal charges, or even evidence of crime, persons designated by him as enemies of the United States. You can’t get more king-like than that. Holder acted as if he’d found a previously undetected loophole in the Constitution. “‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process,’” he said, “are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security.” According to Holder, “The Constitution guarantees due process,” but it does not guarantee judicial process. In other words, the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee people access to the courts, even if they are targeted for execution. If that were true, it would be a worthless Constitution, but the U.S. Supreme Court has convincingly ruled, in a 2004 case, that citizens who are detained as enemy combatants have a right to confront the government on the facts of the matter “before a neutral decision maker” – that is, before a court of some kind. Certainly, such rights would apply to someone the president wants killed.
Ah, but this is war, says Eric Holder, and different rules apply. We could ask the rhetorical question: When does this war end? But Obama is clearly claiming to have rights that are inherent in the president’s national security powers. War is…whatever he says it is. Or, whatever President Romney or President Santorum say it is.
The Attorney General ultimately justifies the trashing of the Constitution on national security grounds. We have reached our national “hour of danger,” he says.
Holder is right about that. The danger is upon us, and it emanates from the White House. There’s a name for the danger: it's called fascism, which happens when militarists and the worst capitalists get together and abolish due process and the rule of law – which the First Black President of the United States has already done.

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