Journal Entry

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Inalienable, part two

I am reasonably certain that the authors of the Bill of Rights intended it to be an expression of universal human rights; rights which every human being owns by nature, the violation of which by any government constitutes wrongdoing. They did not intend them to be a special prize given to citizens of the United States, thereby distinguishing them from the rest of the world.

According to this Washington Post article, here are some of the categories of people our government argues that it can seize, anywhere in the world, and detain indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay:

  • A little old lady in Switzerland who writes checks to what she thinks is a charitable organization for Afghanistan orphans, but which is really supporting al Qaeda
  • a teacher whose class includes a family with Taliban connections
  • a man who does not report his suspicions that his cousin may be an al Qaeda member
  • a reporter who knows where Osama bin Laden is located but does not divulge the information to protect an anonymous source

All of the above are enemy combatants.

In order to decide whether a person is guilty of the above crimes, our government argues that it is permissible to use confessions gained under torture.

Do you think that the Bill of Rights describes special privileges for Americans, which we are under no compunction to extend to Africans or Europeans?

If you can find this anything other than odious and despicable tyranny, I would like to know why.

It looks like we will be in Switzerland for the inauguration, but if I were here I would find this an elegant way to express my feelings in the matter.

Posted by benrosen at December 15, 2004 10:20 AM | Up to blog

You don't happen to read Larry Lessig’s blog, do you?

Posted by: David Moles at December 15, 2004 07:42 PM

I do now... :-)

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at December 20, 2004 10:24 AM

Was the Bill of Rights intended to apply to everyone, or just Americans? Don't Leftist revisionist historians go on about how it just applied to white males? And they have a point. I think it's difficult for us 21st Century folks to try to get into the heads of 18th Century people, because we can see their omissions and contradictions much more easily than they could have. And the same will be true for our descendants, who will no doubt shake their heads in mixed pity and disgust over our shortcomings. With respect to the problem of dealing with Muslim terrorists, even the kindest and wisest person on earth would have problems sorting out the truly guilty from the rest, and the bunch in Washington are a long way from that description.

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