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Padilla and the Constitution Busters

by DuWayne Charles

JUNE 13, 2002. Unless a judge throws the book at the government, José Padilla will go down in history as the man who, unwittingly, made an ugly, frightening gash on the U.S. Constitution. Not alone, of course.

In this act of essentialist terrorism, Padilla, a born pawn, is being helped by a U.S. government that sees the Constitution, the courts, and even Congress as hindrances at best, at worst, as enemies to liquidate.

By labeling Padilla, a U.S. citizen, an 'enemy combatant' and shoving him into a military brig, the government is de facto suspending the Constitution's Fifth and 14th Amendments ("due process of law") and Sixth Amendment (trial by "an impartial jury") for all Americans, not just the former small-time Chicago hoodlum the interested governmental parties are cynically pumping up as the biggest threat to Western civilization since Osama rode into the sunset.

Americans should be alarmed as the rule of law crumbles under their noses, replaced by the rule of White House whim. That they're not is a tribute to the effectiveness of the government's fear-mongering strategy. A vague terrorism warning a day keeps democracy away.

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