U.S. resident’s imprisonment endangers rights

Freedom New Mexico

The U.S. Supreme Court wisely decided this month to review the case
of Ali Saleh Khalah al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident who was apprehended
by the federal government and held for more than five years in a Navy
brig.

He stands accused of being an al-Qaida operative. A three-judge
panel of 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled the Bush administration
could not leave him in military prison indefinitely, but the full
appeals court sided with the administration.

This case was bound to make it to the nation’s highest court given
the stakes involved. As Bloomberg news succinctly explains, the case
also will provide an early test for the new Obama administration. It
can side with President Bush’s assertion that a president can
indefinitely detain legal residents based on suspicions of terrorist
activity, or it can call for al-Marri to be tried in the civilian
courts for specific crimes.

Even if al-Marri is, as the administration alleges, an
al-Qaida-trained operative sent to the United States to disrupt the
financial system, the president’s approach should be deeply troubling
to Americans concerned about unchecked government power.

The question at the heart of the case: Does the president have the
power to imprison legal American residents indefinitely without filing
any charges against them?

The Bush administration tells us we are at war, and that only a
handful of residents have been subjected to such treatment. But anyone
concerned about liberty can see the problem. The only standard for
detention is the government’s belief that one is an enemy of the
nation.

A person can be imprisoned, denied contact with family members, and
even tortured. There’s no due process, no chance to have a day in court
to state one’s case. This is chilling.

A government with such powers could round up its critics with
impunity. Which is why it is crucial the Supreme Court deny the
government the power to do such things and to demand that