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Monday, June 02, 2003
Why We Will Always Need the New York Times I

From today's Times:

"WASHINGTON, June 2 — The Justice Department's roundup of hundreds of illegal immigrants in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks was plagued with 'significant problems' that forced many people with no connection to terrorism to languish in jails in unduly harsh conditions, an internal report released today found.

The highly critical report from the Justice Department's inspector general concluded that F.B.I. officials, particularly in New York City, 'made little attempt to distinguish' between immigrants who had possible ties to terrorism and those swept up by chance in the investigation.

Justice Department officials said they believed they had acted within the law in pursuing terrorist suspects. 'We make no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks,' said Barbara Comstock, a spokeswoman for the department."

I'm all for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks. Who isn't? But, an apology is in order, for what was done was not legal.

I'm not a lawyer, but it's not difficult to figure out why the actions taken weren't legal. All one has to do is go to these four sentences:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial,

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Those are, of course, the 4th, the beginings of the 5th and 6th, and 8th amendments to the Constitution. People must be secure in their persons. They must, if they are imprisoned, charged with a crime and given a speedy trial, and they cannot be forced to languish in jail under unduly harsh conditions. It's un-American and un-Constitutional.

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