Well, I had to think of something to call this timely account of the saga of Ali Al-Marri by our friend Andy Worthington, (interested readers can find our interview with Andy here)which discusses the non-torture torture of what I told Andy could only be considered a continuation of the most important case of our time (Padilla), and hence... the most important case of our time.
Al-Marri, as you will recall, is a legal resident alien, who, like Jose Padilla, was originally detained per the criminal justice system, and then magically called an "enemy combatant" and sent, not to GTMO, but to the Naval Brig in Charleston, SC. Al-Marri's attorney, Jonathan Hafetz (our interview with Mr. Hafetz is here) noted that, while his client's mental deterioration is not as severe as Padilla's, the years of isolation without charge, pointless interrogations, etc., have taken their toll. (Or, just because it doesn't leave physical marks don't mean it ain't torture.)
Why is this case so important? Let me quote from my interview with Jonathan Hafetz:
The Talking Dog: Is it not the case that this is a still-live case presenting virtually the identical issue as Padilla (which the Supreme Court just ducked)?
Jonathan Hafetz: Certainly, the issue is very much live, and presents a danger to us all insofar as the government is asserting the right to strip any one of us of all due process rights and constitutional protections. So yes, that is definitely still the case– Al-Marri’s immigration status as opposed to citizenship doesn’t change that.
Mr. Al-Marri's case continues to crawl its way through our courts, and may or may not reach the Supreme Court some day; unless and until that Court decides once and for all that a person legally within the United States cannot be detained by the government save on probable cause found by a competent neutral magistrate and subject to due process of law (i.e. the Bill of Rights), we will remain a de facto dictatorship.
This virtually unknown case is that important.
Thanks for the mention. Sometimes it's fun to be a member of a small club, but not in this instance. Perhaps we should set up a website, "The De Facto Dictatorship," to spell out why it's the most important case of our time. "First they came for the Communists..."
All the best,
Posted by Andy Worthington at November 6, 2007 9:13 AM