Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Open letter to our leaders: Fight Indefinite Detention.

Every person being held under police powers is either guilty of a crime, or innocent. The Constitution does not contemplate an intermediate state in which due process might be ignored. Every person being held under military powers must have a sovereign state to which he/she answers for participation in a bounded war, or else turned over to police authorities for charge and trial for a crime. International law does not contemplate an intermediate condition, for which the normal procedures of law are suspended.

Indefinite detention contemplates such intermediate conditions.

Under the U.S, Constitution, Indefinite detention violates the fundamental protections against violence by the state against its people. Even used against foreign nationals, Indefinite Detention opens a loop-hole in the law through which crimes against actual citizens might be perpetrated.

Under international law, Indefinite Detention violates the primary notion of sovereign responsibility, that a person is either fighting for a state, or violating the law of a state. It would extend to state-less persons, militants and terrorists the credence of statehood without the accountability of a known sovereignty.

These splitting-the-differences to create Indefinite Detention is dangerous for the rule of law, dangerous for the stability of international law, dangerous for the human rights of others who have committed no crimes, and contrary to the ideal of democracy.

While some persons being held may be dangerous, or know too much about our security systems, their disposition cannot be held in suspension for indefinite periods. Each case must be resolved according to one of the existing categories. The difficulty of doing so is a burden of the state which the state undertakes to protect the freedoms and prosperity of the people of whom it is made.

Mr. Obama, Mr. Representative, and Mr. Senator, please do not capitulate to the Bush/Cheney agenda, whose violations of Americans values and the constitution were so flagrant and despicable. Do not create a third category under the law, of someone who is exempt from the protections of the law. This only invites lawlessness and the collapse of the dream of opportunity and prosperity offered by the rule of law. To create a third category under the law would create a change we cannot believe in.

I urge you to reject any policy or proposal that would deprive individuals of access to a legal process, indefinitely imprisoning them without charge, the chance of a trial, or the protections of the Geneva Convention.

The issues surrounding the closing of Guantánamo are difficult and incredibly complex, but we cannot afford to habituate ourselves to laws that we know would violate our Constitution, or international law. I respectfully ask that you do what is in your power to fight indefinite detention -- It, more than any evil combatant in a criminal conspiracy to terrorize the world, is the true danger to our country, our values, and our Constitution.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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