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Aug 29 2006

Fundamental rights eroded even more

The federal government has prevented a 45-year old California man and his 18-year old son, both US citizens, from re-entering the country after a visit to Pakistan.

The two men are “the uncle and cousin of Hamid Hayat, a 23-year-old Lodi cherry packer who was convicted in April of supporting terrorists by attending a Pakistani training camp.” That case was itself a scandal (see here and here) relying largely on a paid informant and dubious confessions to obtain a conviction.

As Glenn Greenwald says about the blocking of the return of the two men:

[T]he two Americans have already submitted to an FBI interview, but one of them — the American-born 18-year-old — “had run afoul of the FBI when he declined to be interviewed again without a lawyer and refused to take a lie-detector test. ” For those actions — i.e., invoking his constitutional rights to counsel and against self-incrimination — he is being refused entry back into his country. And the Bush administration is now conditioning his re-entry on his relinquishing the most basic constitutional protections guaranteed to him by the Bill of Rights.

Since neither of the two Americans are citizens of any other country, they are in a bizarre legal limbo where the only country they have the right to enter, the U.S., is refusing to allow them to return home.
. . .
But what possible authority exists for the Bush administration — unilaterally, with no judicial authorization, and no charges being brought — to bar U.S. citizens from entering their own country? And what kind of American would favor vesting in the Federal Government the power to start prohibiting other American citizens from entering the U.S. even though they have been charged with no crime and no court has authorized their exclusion?

Over the past five years, this administration and its supporters have advocated empowering the Government to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely in military prisons without a trial, eavesdrop on their telephone conversations without any warrants, track and chronicle all of their telephone calls, and now bar their entry into the U.S. — all without any criminal charges being filed and without any opportunity to contest the accusations, all of which are formed in secret.

I wonder when Americans are going to realize that this administration has no respect at all for the rule of law or the constitution, that all it wants is unchecked power over everyone?

POST SCRIPT: It happened when? Really?

Amazingly, 30% of Americans cannot name the year in which the September 11 World Trade Center attacks took place.

Interestingly enough, 95% of those who could not do so were aged 55 and over. The media loves to highlight stories that indicate that young people are clueless idiots who cannot even find the US on a world map. But for some reason they are not hailing this as a good news item showing that younger people are more on the ball than their elders.

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