"Never trust anything the government says" is a basic credo of the conspiracy crowd, but just adding "without public evidence" makes it a foundational statement of citizenship. And when the Government is proposing to deny someone basic rights, like their freedom, that public evidence better be good. Liberty for all requires it. The fourth through sixth amendments to the Constitution say:
Amendment IVNote that United States citizen is not used, only person and accused. The witch connection and a Glenn Greenwald update is after the jump.
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, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Glennzilla takes the comparison back a few centuries to the Salem Witch Trials:
A very long time ago, I would be baffled when I'd read about things like the Salem witch hunts. How could so many people be collectively worked up into that level of irrational frenzy, where they cheered for people's torturous death as "witches" without any real due process or meaningful evidence? But all one has to do is look at our current Terrorism debates and it's easy to see how things like that happen. It's just pure mob mentality: an authority figure appears and affixes a demonizing Other label to someone's forehead, and the adoring crowd -- frothing-at-the-mouth and feeding on each other's hatred, fears and desire to be lead -- demands "justice." I imagine that if one could travel back in time to the Salem era in order to speak with some of those gathered outside an accused witch's home, screaming for her to be killed, the conversation would go something like this:UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald supports this idea with his remarks on the IRS plane guy, who isn't being called a terrorist because ... he's an American!
Mob Participant: Hang the Witch!!! Kill her!!!
Far Left Civil Liberties Extremist-Purist ("FLCLE-P"): How do you know she's a witch?
Mob Participant: Didn't you just hear the government official say so?
FLCLE-P: But don't you want to see real evidence before you assume that's true and call for her death?
Mob Participant: You just heard the evidence! The magistrate said she's a witch!
FLCLE-P: But shouldn't there be a real trial first, with tangible evidence and due process protections, to see if the accusation is actually true?
Mob Participant: A "real" trial? She's a witch! She's trying to curse us and kill us all. She got more than what she deserved. Witches don't have rights!!!
Return to Question 1.
That's essentially how I hear our debates over Terrorism, and how I've heard them for quite some time. And it's how I hear them more loudly now than ever before. And with those deeply confused premises now locked into place on a bipartisan basis ("no trials are needed to determine if someone is a Terrorist because Terrorists don't have rights"), imagine how much louder that will get if there is another successful terrorist attack in the U.S. But in fairness to the 17th Century Puritans, at least the Salem witches received pretenses of due process and even trials (albeit with coerced confessions and speculative hearsay). Even when it comes to our fellow citizens, we don't even bother with those. For us, the mere accusation by our leaders is sufficient: Kill that American Terrorist with a drone!
In sum: a Muslim who attacks military targets, including in war zones or even in their own countries that have been invaded by a foreign army, are Terrorists. A non-Muslim who flies an airplane into a government building in pursuit of a political agenda is not, or at least is not a Real Terrorist with a capital T -- not the kind who should be tortured and thrown in a cage with no charges and assassinated with no due process. Nor are Christians who stand outside abortion clinics and murder doctors and clinic workers. Nor are acts undertaken by us or our favored allies designed to kill large numbers of civilians or which will recklessly cause such deaths as a means of terrorizing the population into desired behavioral change -- the Glorious Shock and Awe campaign and the pummeling of Gaza. Except as a means for demonizing Muslims, the word is used so inconsistently and manipulatively that it is impoverished of any discernible meaning.