“Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security,” Holder said. “The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”
With that statement, Attorney General Eric Holder joined the ranks of those who have made the greatest misleading or untrue statements in U.S. history.
“Saddam Hussein has chemical and biological weapons, and he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.” – George W. Bush
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” – Bill Clinton
“I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life I have never obstructed justice. People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.” – Richard M. Nixon
“I pledged in my campaign for the Presidency to end the [Vietnam] war in a way that we could win the peace. I have initiated a plan of action which will enable me to keep that pledge. The more support I can have from the American people, the sooner that pledge can be redeemed.” – Richard M. Nixon
Those are some big footprints to follow in, and Holder is no slouch when it comes to big feet. And the bigger they are, the harder their illogic reasoning falls to the ground. And this illogical reasoning is a whopper.
Let’s parse his statement. What exactly is “due process” which is guaranteed by the Constitution in both the 5th and 14th Amendments?
Here’s how it’s typically described:
- Right to a fair and public trial conducted in a competent manner
- Right to be present at the trial
- Right to an impartial jury
- Right to be heard in one’s own defense
- Laws must be written so that a reasonable person can understand what is criminal behavior
- Taxes may only be taken for public purposes
- Property may be taken by the government only for public purposes
- Owners of taken property must be fairly compensated
This seems to also describe the judicial process, mentioning a fair and public trial by impartial jury and all. But let’s find out for sure, shall we?
The Judicial Process
Article III of the Constitution of the United States guarantees that every person accused of wrongdoing has the right to a fair trial before a competent judge and a jury of one’s peers.
The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution provide additional protections for those accused of a crime. These include:
- A guarantee that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without the due process of law
- Protection against being tried for the same crime twice (“double jeopardy”)
- The right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury
- The right to cross-examine witnesses, and to call witnesses to support their case
- The right to legal representation
- The right to avoid self-incrimination
- Protection from excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments
That, folks, is straight from http://www.whitehouse.gov/our-government/judicial-branch
Check it out yourself.
So, the judicial process under the Constitution guarantees US citizens that we can’t be deprived of life and stuff without “due process of law”. Due process under the Constitution guarantees US citizens that we have the right to a “fair and public trial” which is further expanded on by judicial process. So, in effect, the one is dependent on the other and can’t be separated.
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, have never studied law, and do not pretend to be the high muckety-muck Attorney General of the United States.
And what was this illogic put to use to sell to the American people? That the United States has the right to hunt down an kill any American citizen anywhere in the world that the Government deems his hostile and represents a danger to the safety and well-being of the United States. In other words, if an Anwar al-Awlaki has been paling around with Osama bin Laden planning terrorist attacks against Americans here or in foreign countries but have no legal proof that he personally carried them out, there’s no need to attempt to capture him alive, extradite him back to a federal or military courtroom, prove the charges, and then imprison or execute him. Nope, the President, acting upon the advice of his security and military advisers can simply order “Take him out”, and one drone bomb later, al-Awlaki is history.
Now, I’m in no way arguing for leniency for avowed terrorist enemies of the United States. If I had lost friends and/or family in the 9/11 attack, or at Fort Hood or aboard an airplane, I’d take a 9mm Glock to the suspected terrorist mastermind who’s an American citizen and first kneecap him and then work my way up. But that’s me, I’m not the United States government sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.
This isn’t the first hole the Obama administration has poked in the Constitution. The USA PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act of 2006—which was extended by Congress and Obama, NDAA for 2012, the Espionage Act of 1917 all precede this legal opinion rendered by Holder.
The U.S. Supreme Court has already decided that the police can break down the door to your home to arrest you—based on hearsay or what they might think they overhear outside your home-without a warrant. Even if they have a warrant but that warrant is written incorrectly, as long as the police in their professional opinion think you should have been arrested, that’s just dandy with Chief Justice John Roberts and the gang. So our domestic rights under the Constitution have been steadily eroding since 2001. What the Obama administration is now enacting is the erosion of constitutionally-guaranteed rights to any American citizen at any time anywhere in the world for any reason for an indeterminate length of time. You see, you, an American citizen, can be snatched from the streets anywhere and held in some prison without ever being told why you were snatched and imprisoned. Maybe you don’t get tortured or maybe you do but the Commandant has plausible deniability over knowing about it. Maybe you’re sitting in a Pakistani café and your table explodes, or the waiter slips behind and delivers your check behind your left ear. Or you’re camping in the desert and a drone bomber flies overhead and rains bombs on your picnic.
Yes, realistically speaking, almost none of us will ever experience these scenarios. But this erosion of personal and civil rights has been a common tactic in every country where the democratically-elected government was overthrown and the people subjected to tyrannical rule. I don’t believe that President Obama is a tyrannical dictator—but this is the way it starts too often, with the slow erosion of basic rights with the acquiescence of a people kept so frightened by the enemy boogeyman held up to them by their government they’ll agree to anything to feel safe and protected by that same government.
Eric Holder is wrong, and not nearly enough people in the media are saying so. I would have expected this type of specious argument from Republican Alberto Gonzales, the 2nd Attorney General under Republican President George W. Bush. But not an A.G. under the Democratic President Barack Obama. When the Democrats start to resemble the Republicans, it reminds one of the famous Zen koan, “What is the sound of one political party running America?”