Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More of the Constitution trampled upon by Bush's Legacy.

This is taken from a truthdig article. You can read the entire thing here.

Here are the highlights:

U.S. federal agents were preparing to arrest Youssef Megahed in Tampa, Fla. Just three days earlier, on Friday, a jury in a U.S. federal district court had acquitted him of charges of illegally transporting explosives and possession of an explosive device.

Megahed, acquitted by a jury of his peers, thought he was secure, back with his family. He was enrolled in his final course at the University of South Florida that would allow him to receive his college degree. Then the nightmare he had just escaped returned. His father told me: “Yesterday around noon, I took my son to buy something from Wal-Mart ... when we received a call from our lawyer that we must meet him immediately ... when we got to the parking lot, we found ourselves surrounded by more than seven people. They dress in normal clothes without any badges, without any IDs, surrounded us and give me a paper.

“And they told me, ‘Sign this.’ ‘Sign this for what?’ I ask him. They told me, ‘We are going to take your son ... to deport him.’”

Megahed is being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a deportation proceeding. The charges are the same ones from which he was completely acquitted. In August 2007, Megahed and a fellow USF student took a road trip to see the Carolinas. When pulled over for speeding, police found something in the trunk that they described as explosives. Megahed’s co-defendant, Ahmed Mohamed, said they were homemade fireworks.

Prosecutors pointed to an online video by Mohamed, said to show how to convert a toy into an explosives detonator. Facing 30 years behind bars, Mohamed took a plea agreement and is now serving 15 years. Megahed pled not guilty, and the federal jury in his trial agreed with his defense: He was an unwitting passenger and completely innocent of any wrongdoing.
That’s where ICE comes in. Despite being cleared of the charges in the federal criminal case, it turns out that people can still be arrested and deported based on the same charges. The U.S. Constitution protects people from “double jeopardy,” being charged twice with the same offense. But in the murky world of immigrant detention, it turns out that double jeopardy is perfectly legal.

Ahmed Bedier, the president of the Tampa Human Rights Council and co-host of “True Talk,” a global-affairs show focusing on Muslims and Muslim Americans on Tampa community radio station WMNF, criticizes the pervasive and persistent attacks on the U.S. Muslim community by the federal government, singling out the Joint Terrorism Task Forces, or JTTFs. The JTTFs, Bedier says, “include not only federal FBI agents, but also postal inspectors, IRS agents, deputized local police officers and sheriff’s deputies, any type of law enforcement,” and when one agency fails to take down an individual, another agency steps in. “It’s like an octopus,” he says.

Wow. I'm floored. This is entirely ridiculous. First the wiretapping and PATRIOT act. Guantanamo Bay. Then the John Yoo Memos. Now this? C'mon!! Wake up, people! This is George W. Bush's legacy. This is the Republicans' legacy. While they whine about the first lady returning the Queen of England's hug, they silently take away all that we hold dear.

Double Jeopardy. Habeas Corpus. Free Speech. Warrants. Due Process. All sacrificed to the "war on terror." We sure won that.


Dave Miller said...

James, I am still waiting for the Bush apologists to defend their guy from this continuing string of items.

Each time I have posted, they have been no where to be found.

The same is true on the recent Baker comments.

I wonder why they are reluctant to offer up any justification, or legal defense, for these actions.

Don't hold your breath waiting.

OpenMindedRepublican said...

This is actually not 'double jeopardy' in the legal sense.

He cannot be tried for the same crime twice. But deportation is not a criminal process.

It is similar to how you can be found 'not guilty' for a crime and still be sued for it and lose. One in a criminal case, one is a civil case.

The justification would be that for a non-citizen to be in America is a privilege, not a right, and a privelege may be rescinded with a lower level of proof. If someone can reasonably be considered a danger, deportation would be appropriate, even though the exact same evidence would not meet the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' requirement for conviction in a criminal case.

Whether it is appropriate in this case or not I have no idea; One short article is not enough information.

James Wolfer said...

There have been a myriad of abuses justified through the "deportation" process. Double jeopardy, habeas corpus, etc. One shouldn't have to be paranoid that they are going to be treated as guilty even if found innocent due to a loophole.

And unlike civil suits, will exact a monetary compensation, deportation is banishment and is a punishment for a crime he was found innocent of. Had he been found guilty that would be a different story altogether.

OpenMindedRepublican said...

I am not saying it's right, as I said I do not know.

But it is not unconstitutional.

Nor do I see how habeas corpus is an issue in this case - he is being held for specific charges that are being brought to court. Habeas corpus is a protection against being held without charges.

I believe the legal perspective on this would be that this is not 'punishment', it is 'prevention' of a potential threat to the citizens.

James Wolfer said...

Habeas corpus wasn't what was violated in this case. In many, many others, it is. Immigration arena that the government has used to deny those. Maybe my next post will be about the habeas corpus issue.

In this case, it is still unconstitutional. He is being punished for a crime that he was vindicated.

The framers of the constitution said "all men" had certain inalienable rights, not just american citizens.

What I've seen of the Republican party as of late has been an attitude of "they are only rights for Americans" and that these rights do not extend to anyone else. That's why other immigrants HAVE been held without charge, within our borders. That's why Guantanamo Bay exists. That's why rendition happened.

It's still double jeopardy. If he's innocent, then they should not be able to deport him for a crime he didn't commit. No one should fear this if they come to the US legally. No one should fear imprisonment without charge or double jeopardy within our borders, especially legal residents, such as this man.

sue said...

you must know isorski

James Wolfer said...


sue said...

His blog is great - all about music. The name of it is isorski's musings. He is a musician, guitar I believe, and lives in Portland.
Has a band.

James Wolfer said...

Oh. Do you have a link to his blog? I'd love to take a look.

Susannah said...

These fellows were not American citizens. I'll beg to differ, James. Those who are not citizens of our country are not entitled to protection under the Constitution thereof. OpenMinded is right - their visit in America is a PRIVILEGE, not a right.

Thus, if you are a young male of middle-eastern descent, & you are VISITING this country to reap the benefits of our educational system, I, as a citizen hereof EXPECT that you will have respect for our culture. That means you use the brains in your skull & DO NOT be tinkering w/ 'home made fireworks' (sure...), while simultaneously appearing in an online video building an explosive device out of toys which can be found on the shelf @ Walmart... which was where Mr. Megahed was shopping, no? (Just thought I'd tease a little, but you get my point??)

If you're just students minding your own business, then have the sense God gave a tick & don't do stuff that makes you look like a terrorist. (Unless you're in truth doing stuff that makes you a terrorist...) As visitors in our country, they have a responsibilty to not abuse their privilege & cast suspicions on themselves. (Besides, in the South, we're taught it's just good manners.)

If Law Enforcement HADN'T done something about these two, I would have been STEAMED! (They came through my state.) Good for my state HWY patrol, or whoever stopped these cats.

And as for the Patriot Act, Hallelujah for that. It has allowed us to keep up w/ technology (that's faster than the speed of light), w/o losing a trail while you're waiting for a Judge to put on her bathrobe in the middle of the night, etc., etc., etc. Good for it!

With all respect, you folks simply don't understand that these people are in this thing to win. And win means we DIE. They're going to kill us w/ our own political correctness. Heaven help us.

As for the war on terror, James says, "we sure won that." Yep, the first 7 years of the battle, we sure did. Pres. Bush said from the VERY BEGINNING that it would be long & arduous, & that the aim was to keep it on their soil.
Even you all have to admit, he was right about that. "We sure won that," at least for now.

I couldn't care less what Mrs. Obama does w/ the Queen. It's her husband that's the national disgrace. "Taking away all we hold dear" How about single handedly declaring our Judeo-Christian heritage erased?(Please see my post, if you care to). Barring all the apologizing he has been doing, & the PC bowing (don't get me started there) he has done - which netted him exactly nothing. James, our undeniable Christian heritage & Christianity is about as dear as it gets...

Dave, my guess is that you don't like what I've said, but I suppose you can stop holding your breath now.

James Wolfer said...

Thanks for your comments. They are welcome here anytime. I hope you don't mind, but I just might blogroll you :)

As for this case, Megahed was not the one in the video. He was a passenger in the vehicle of the guy who was, who had made the bombs/fireworks. That man is in jail.

In criminal court, you must be aquitted unaminously. The jury and judge all agreed that this man was just an innocent that got into the wrong car.

If it's good enough for the justice system, it should be good enough.

As to your comment that These fellows were not American citizens. I'll beg to differ, James. Those who are not citizens of our country are not entitled to protection under the Constitution thereof... I'd like to differ.

From our Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

Our founders thought certain rights were human rights for all mankind, not just US citizens. And nowhere in the Constitution or the Amendments related to arrest, search & seizure, or due process will you find that it says only citizens get the protection.

And Obama didn't get rid of our national heritage. I'll post more on that in a minute.

James Wolfer said...

What he actually said was
"I’ve said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is – although as I mentioned we have a very large Christian population – we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

This is identical to him saying "We are not a caucasian nation. We are a nation that contains caucasians, and african americans, and native americans, and hispanics..." Just because a majority is present doesn't make it the definition of the country.

And what he said in Turkey was just reiteration of what he said while running for President:

"Whatever we once were, we're no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers. We should acknowledge this and realize that when we're formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we've got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community."

I think after reading your post Susannah I'll have to post one of my own.

sue said...


James Wolfer said...

Also, by letting our administration decide that our constitution and its amendments are secondary to the war on terror, we let them win. They got us to change the way we live.

sue said...

Sory to keep interrupting the discussion.

He is in a Pink Floyd Tribute band.
Floydian Slips is the name of it.

Isorki's Musings is the name of his blog.

James Wolfer said...

Oh, no worries. I saw his blog. Its quite good. Thanks for the link!

sue said...

So is yours.