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No Democracy Without the Bill of Rights

June 16, 2002

Re "Detention of a Citizen Questioned," June 12: The detention of Jose Padilla, an American citizen, in the absence of criminal charges, an arraignment or access to legal counsel--and the lack of outrage in the press about this action--should frighten and anger every American. Whether the 1942 Supreme Court decision cited by the Justice Department is a relevant precedent or not, the bottom line is that we are being asked to place unquestioning trust in Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and President Bush, who at best are fallible and at worst may act in bad faith.

The constitutional system of checks and balances was created precisely to prevent this kind of unilateral administration of power by the government, particularly the executive branch, because the framers knew that all governments would ultimately abuse such power. For Americans to believe that the current administration is immune from the lessons of history is naive and dangerous. Exactly what are we trying to protect from terrorists if not constitutional democracy?

Dan Brezenoff

San Pedro


Every U.S. passport has a warning saying that anyone who joins a foreign army automatically loses, as in renounces, his citizenship. Therefore, Padilla illegally reentered this country as a spy, saboteur and/or terrorist and has absolutely no rights afforded American citizens. Furthermore, a 1942 Supreme Court precedent involving U.S.-born Nazi saboteurs ruled that a captured combatant has no constitutional rights, whether or not the war was declared by Congress. Forward thinkers, those Supremes!

Here's a guy who figured violent street gangs were too warm and fuzzy, so he joined Al Qaeda to kill Americans. By giving this the front page, are you siding with this madman over his intended victims?

Tim Tolleson



As I read the pundits and spin-masters telling us why we urgently need a Department of Homeland Security, I keep waiting for someone to explain where the National Security Agency went. What exactly is it doing with its published $10-billion annual budget? According to the NSA Web site: The National Security Agency coordinates, directs and performs highly specialized activities to protect the United States and produce foreign intelligence information.

According to the White House, the Department of Homeland Security would be: 1) one department whose primary mission is to protect the American homeland; and 2) one department to synthesize and analyze homeland security intelligence from multiple sources.

I know the world is different now, but have we abandoned the concept of a smaller government completely, or has that become the bastion of the Democratic Party? If that is the case, you can find me looking out the window hoping to catch a glimpse of some flying pigs.

David Katzner

Woodland Hills

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