My general position:
I believe that any suspect of a crime in American custody should have right to legal consultation. Without allowing this right, the American government would not be upholding the ideals that have made this country what it is today. However, if there is a suspected threat to national security, the United States government should have the right to hold a foreign national without formal charges.
First Draft below:
The United States of America was has functioned as a powerful nation since its creation and liberation. The United States has become the nation it is today because of the ideals that have been upheld in our constitution. I believe that any suspect of a crime in American custody should have right to legal consultation. Without allowing this right, the American government would not be upholding the ideals that have made this country what it is today. However, I also believe that there are some instances where the constitution should not be upheld, a sort of exception to the rule. If there is a suspected threat concerning national security, the United States government should have the right to hold a foreign national without formal charges.
When our constitution was originally created, there were many things about it that are quite unlike what it is today. There have been ammendments made and different interpretations of the document. Allowing for these different interpretations has allowed the constitution to stay current and relevant to the ever-changing American lifestyle while still upholding the same basic ideals. The right to legal council is something in the constitution that should be considered immutable and acceptable no matter what the situation. However, the right to hold foreign nationals without formal charges is nowhere to be found in the document.
It is my belief that the United States government should have the right to do this and the constitution allows for such extinuating circumstances. In Article I, Section 9, it is stated that “the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” Terrorist attacks or suspected terrorist attacks are, in my opinion, an invasion of United States territory, freedom, and public safety. Therefore, the United States government has the right to take away such privledges.
Evaluation by Skrotor
I see that you are trying to imply that habeas corpus should be suspended with proper discretion, but you must clearly state when and when not to suspend this right. In the opening paragraph, you state that the government should not be allowed to hold any criminal without formal charges, but later on in the same paragraph you state the opposite: that the government should be able to hold prisoners witout charges. This seems like a contradiction. Rather than generalizing "the beliefs that this country was founded on," you should try to cite specifc examples in which the suspension of habeas corpus has been beneficial, such as Lincoln's actions during the Civil War. Try to specifically state your views on the criteria that must be met in order to justify Article 1, Section 9. Skrotor
On September 11, 2001, the bewildered citizens of this country watched as their nation was brutally and maliciously attacked and thousands of innocent lives were lost. The tragic and horrific events of this day are an example of a new type of warfare that our world now faces in the twenty first century: terrorism. These acts of terrorism exposed that even the most powerful nation in the world is still vulnerable. The United States of America has functioned as a powerful nation since its creation and liberation. It has faced the most formidable of foes and emerged victorious. Indeed the United States has become the nation it is today because of the ideals that have been upheld in our constitution and the legislation that guides our way of life. However, I also believe that as times change and new challenges present themselves, the document that governs this nation and its way of life should be open to new interpretation and change as well. If there is a suspected threat concerning national security, the United States government should have the right to hold a foreign national without formal charges.
When our constitution was originally created, there were many things about it that are quite unlike what it is today. There have been amendments made and different interpretations of the document. Allowing for these different interpretations has allowed the constitution to stay current and relevant to the ever-changing American lifestyle while still upholding the same basic ideals. In Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution, it is stated that “the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” The purpose of the writ is to prevent unlawful imprisonment. However, this right to prevent unlawful imprisonment, such as being held without formal charges, is something in the constitution that can be taken away when extenuating circumstances have arisen. Terrorist attacks or suspected terrorist attacks are, in my opinion, an invasion of United States territory, freedom, and public safety. Therefore, the United States government has the right to take away the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus given to United States citizens and hold any foreign national suspected of any such activities without filing formal charges. This leads to conflicting ideas within our constitution. Amendments V and VI both protect the rights of the accused. Amendment V states that a detainee should not be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law” and Amendment VI states that he must have a “speedy and public trial.” Both of these amendments cannot be upheld properly without formally charging anyone that has been detained. However, in times that would warrant revoking the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, these amendments should certainly be overridden by the severity of the situation.
Following the events of September 11, 2001, there was a commission appointed to investigate all aspects of the terrorist attacks. Released in 2004, “the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report provides a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. It also includes recommendations designed to guard against future attacks” (GPO access). The commission points out that in the presence of the new challenges that terrorism presents, “many of our recommendations require that the government increase its presence and authority in our lives” (9/11 Commission Final Report). The report also states that “In wartime, government calls for greater powers” in order to adequately keep our country safe (9/11 Commission Final Report). The War on Terror is no different than the wars before it other than the fact that it is one with no end in sight. New terrorist organizations continue to form and threaten our safety as a nation. Preventative measures are needed in order to protect us during this war. If a foreign national is suspected of connections to terrorist organizations or its attacks, holding him or her without formal charges should fall under the government’s “greater powers.”
The legislation that was passed in response to the September 11th attacks is the Patriot Act of 2001. This piece of legislation grants more power to the federal government’s investigative agencies in order to prevent future terrorist attacks and keep the United States safe. The Patriot Act recognizes the changing of times and the different challenges that we did not face when the framers of our Constitution constructed that document. Its policies reflect the great advancements in technology that are now available to the public. The Patriot Act has eased the restrictions on surveillance, wire taps, and warrants that law enforcement uses to track and investigate any criminal suspects. It has also greatly facilitated collaboration and cooperation between government agencies so that they can better “connect the dots” (Life and Liberty). Another of its preventive measures is its allowance of the United States government to detain any person who they have “reasonable grounds to believe” is involved in any threat to the nation’s security (Patriot Act). While some critics argue that this act greatly restricts our personal and civil liberties, in times of war, the presence of government in our lives is often increased due to necessary preventive measures. This groundbreaking legislation was passed virtually without debate following September 11th by elected representatives of our nation’s people. Its relevance and pertinence in our everyday lives and safety is apparent by the swift and relatively uncontested enactment of its policies.
The world as we know it is far different than it was in the late 18th century. At that time, when the Constitution was being written, we were not faced with many of the difficult situations that we are today. The “invasions” we now face are not those facilitated by boats, but rather initiated from within our country. They are not originated by a quest for land or gold, but rather an act of hatred. The Constitution that guides our nation should grow with our nation, and should be interpreted in that way. In Article I, section IV, the “case of rebellion or invasion” should include terrorism, because it is something that, in our lifetime and in the future, will greatly affect our nation and its safety. The people who are involved with this threat to our safety should be treated accordingly, and should have their right to invoke the Writ of Habeas Corpus taken away. The Commission that has investigated our country’s most devastating terror attacks has released information stating that the presence of our government in times of war should be increased, and our civil liberties may be infringed upon in order to preserve our lives. There has also been legislation passed that validates the increased presence of our government in our lives during the War on Terror. The Patriot Act passed in 2001 gives the federal government the ability to further protect us and take preventative measures against attacks on the United States. Therefore, the Constitution and the legislation that has been passed in recent years have given the United States government the right to hold foreign nationals without formal charges.
“The 9/11 Commission Report”, [web page] June 2004; http://www.gpoaccess.gov/911/ [Accessed April 10 2005].
Rich Lowry, “Highlights of the USA Patriot Act”, [web page] 2003; http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/subs/h_patact.htm [Accessed April 10 2005].
The United States Constitution
The Patriot Act of 2001
The Final Report of the 9/11 Commission
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