Extremism in Opposition to Liberty is a Vice

It's time for Mr. Ashcroft to be forced out of his position and replaced with an Attorney General who is familiar with the Consitutition and statutory U.S. law. The fact that he defends arbitrary treatment of citizens and non-citizens in the U.S., separate non-standard (non-military) treatment of foreign resident or visitors, and criticizes criticism of attacks on liberty all disqualify him from the job.

I have no problem with the government detaining and deporting people who have violated the terms of their visas. That seems like a good thing to me in a variety of ways. The INS doesn't ensure reasonable treatment of non-citizens in far too many arbitrary venues, hearings, and methodologies too complex to go into here, but a deal's a deal: if you're here illegally, then you should expect you will have to leave and/or be prosecuted.

But I don't understand at all why normal rules of evidence, procedure, and habeas corpus are being suspended for specific classes of human beings when our courts are among the greatest in the world. Yes, there's still bias: you're more likely to be on death row in Texas if you're black than white for the same magnitude of crime adjusted for population percentages.

Our courts on the whole, however, are a daily exercise in the best aspects of democracy. Even military courts aren't awful institutions. But the tribunals the Bush administration put into place suspend all rules, violate all principles, that this country was founded on.

Do we need to take to the streets and protest? What action on the part of us as citizens will help our fellow citizens understand that this is how it all begins? First you take away the rights of people who aren't citizens. Then you take away some rights from classes of citizens the government doesn't like (interviewing 5,000 men who fit a loose description with no specific facts; detaining people without immediate representation, etc.). Then you start tightening up the laws around a variety of areas that keep people from being able to adequately protest. Perhaps a high-government official even decries protests as anti-patriotic. And so it goes into concentration camps, racial cleansing, etc.

It's not a very slippery slope. It's straight down. The courts are our only defense against executive power that runs amok. Start taking people out of the courts, and you remove the blocks on executive power.

Ashcroft must be forced out and replaced with someone who will support justice in the name of liberty. I have never felt more akin with gun owners and defenders of gun owning rights than I did yesterday after hearing Ashcroft.