Sunday, January 11, 2004

Civil rights pushback

The civil rights pushback continues. The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Yaser Hamdi, a US citizen held without charge as an "enemy combatant". Hamdi's case is identical to that of John Walker Lindh - he is a US citizen arrested in Afghanistan after fighting for the Taleban. Where Lindh was given a proper trial, Hamdi has been imprisoned in a military brig, denied access to lawyers, and the Bush administration denies the jurisdiction of US courts. He has yet to be charged with any crime.

Hamdi's case, like that of Jose Padilla, is important because fundamental issues of freedom are at stake. If the US government can arbitrarily designate a citizen an "enemy combatant", indefinately detain them, or subject them to a military tribunal, then no American is safe. We can only hope that their Supreme Court will uphold the values of their Constitution and Bill of Rights, rather than writing future administrations a license for tyranny.