Friday, March 2, 2012

Goodbye Fifth Amendment, Hello Indefinite Detention!

Note: The following was a article I wrote a while back for a job interview that required me to write an article while being timed. I had to pick from a selection of writing prompts which were titles of news headlines. Out of the list I chose the above title and while I did not get the job, I thought this was pretty darn good. Probably so good that it hurt my chances to work with these folks, who knows? Without further ado...

Remember the good ol’ days when people were innocent until proven guilty? When a citizen of this great country was given certain inalienable rights that could not be taken away without going through the process of having their story heard by a jury of his peers in a fair and just manner? Well it looks like these kooky concepts will be a thing of the past, brought up only when we gather around our grandchildren to dazzle them with ancient rubbish.

It has been reported that the majority of Congress is putting the finishing touches on an amendment that will pretty much kill off some vital American rights under our Constitution. One of the provisions discussed are as follows:

"One provision would authorize the military to indefinitely detain without charge people suspected of involvement with terrorism, including United States citizens apprehended on American soil.

Indefinite Detention? Come again? Last I checked, there was due process in America. Habeas Corpus? You know, where the rights of a citizen that lives on our soil are legally protected and are required to be respected and such? I mean, we are human beings after all and should be treated with some dignity and fairness before being shackled and tossed in an 8 by 12 box with bars all around. Guess that’s just a bunch of Latin mumbo jumbo now.

Let’s take a second and just imagine being in our homes with our families, minding our own business. The wife is cooking a dinner so scrumptious it would make Boston Market hang up their chef hats. The kids are in the living room watching Sesame Street and you’re relaxing on the couch with Newsweek in your hand when there’s a bang at the door so loud it’s enough to ruin your mood for the next four score and seven years. You go answer the door only to be tackled down by some thugs in fatigues without explanation. Before you know it, you’re whisked away in a van while your family cries out your name, confused and terrified. You soon are flown to a country in the Middle East because you were suspected of terrorism and for the next year are put through enormous amounts of torture, all while innocent of any wrongdoing.

Sounds like something out of a movie, right? Well it’s actually happened before. Google the name Maher Arar if you don’t believe me. In the past, governments—including the United States—would do this knowing full well that it is in violation of human rights and now we have the suits over at Capitol Hill trying to legislate it and make it all fine and dandy. If you haven’t done a spit-take on your coffee yet, it doesn’t end there:

"A second provision would mandate military custody for most terrorism suspects. It would force on the military responsibilities it hasn't sought"..."for domestic law enforcement...." 
"A third provision would further extend a ban on transfers from Guantanamo, ensuring that this morally and financially expensive symbol of detainee abuse will remain open well into the future."
Well slap me silly and call me Saddam! The military is just going to have a blast aren’t they? I suggest we as citizens don’t just scroll over to the sports column and ignore this insanity. These provisions may be directed towards those suspected of terrorism right now, but if they are tampering with the Fifth Amendment for this matter, who’s to say Congress won’t eventually do the same if you’ve run a red light? If this is the direction the country is heading towards, we might as well all be cellmates rather than neighbors.

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