A few good links on law-enforcement concerns
Just a few of today’s links from Radley Balko. (Full list at the link.)
- California legislature considers bill making it a felony for prosecutors to knowingly withhold exculpatory evidence. [Very good news! – LG]
- Shockingly, creating a secret registry of alleged gang members with no oversight, transparency, or accountability, accessible only to law enforcement . . . has led to some problems.
- DEA refuses to reconsider federal ban on medicinal marijuana, continues to make strong case for federal ban of DEA.
- Donald Trump wants to send American citizens to Gitmo, too.
- The DEA secretly profiles thousands of travelers each year as part of a fishing expedition for asset forfeiture lucre.
- Missouri prosecutor says police officer lied about why they shot a man while making an arrest. He has dropped the charges against the man and is refusing to prosecute any other cases in which the officers are involved. [Very good news. – LG]
It does seem that some tentative steps are being taken to hold police officers and prosecutors liable for misconduct. Still a long way to go, though.
Regarding Trump’s decision that US citizens suspected (merely suspected) of terrorism should be imprisoned at Guantánamo, tortured (that is something he has previously said he would do), and tried by a military tribunal. James Fallows comments:
In an interview with the Miami Herald today, a man who could become the next president said that if it were up to him, U.S. citizens suspected of terrorist involvement could be sent to Guantanamo and handled by military tribunals, rather than tried in normal courts.
Here is what the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says on the topic:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
This is part of the same document that Khizr Khan wondered whether Donald Trump had ever read.
Of course you could make a case that unusual circumstances require unusual measures: Abraham Lincoln imposed martial law during the Civil War. Woodrow Wilson suppressed free speech during World War I. Franklin Roosevelt notoriously authorized the internment of ethnically Japanese U.S. citizens during World War II. The entirety of the post-9/11 era has involved tensions along the frontier between liberty and security, and elaborations of the differences between the rights of people in general and the additional rights (under U.S. law) of U.S. citizens.
You could make a case—but Trump didn’t even pretend to try. Here is the extentof his “thinking” on an issue involving first principles of liberty, constitutional balance, and how a democracy maintains its values while defending itself:
Asked about Guantánamo in the past, Trump has said he would like to “load it up with bad dudes.”…
“Would you try to get the military commissions — the trial court there — to try U.S. citizens?” a reporter asked.
“Well, I know that they want to try them in our regular court systems, and I don’t like that at all. I don’t like that at all,” he said. “I would say they could be tried there, that would be fine.”
“I don’t like that at all”—such is his case against today’s understanding of constitutional protections. “That would be fine.” Actually, no. . .
Keep in mind that Trump has promised that he will do “worse than torture,” and he was told that the military and CIA would refuse to follow an order to torture, Trump said, “They won’t refuse. They’re not gonna refuse me. Believe me. I’m a leader, I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it.”
She he will do worse than torture to these suspects, US citizens he will imprison in Guantánamo.
One big problem with this is that whether you’re a suspect does not depend on you. Whether you’re a terrorist or a criminal does depend on you: you can choose not to do terrorist acts and not to do crimes. But being a suspect really is totally not up to you: if someone suspects you (even for no reason or for a silly reason (you have a beard; terrorists often have a beard; therefore…) or for an irrelevant reason (you took their parking spot so they’re angry and are going to show you)), then you are suspect. It depends totally on someone else’s decision, not your decision.
So anyone might be a suspect—and, under Trump, would be whisked off to Guantánamo to be tortured. (Trump doesn’t seem to have any knowldge whatsoever of the Constitution, as shown by his comment about “Article XII.”)
The reason the Constitution has all those safeguards is exactly so that you are protected if someone else decides that you are “suspicious.”