Democrats Against Military Tribunals?

Dennis Putnam dap1 at MINDSPRING.COM
Sat Dec 1 07:41:13 MST 2001


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At 05:33 PM 11/30/2001 -0800, you wrote:

>Not sure what you are saying here, but my question then becomes (if I am
>understanding you), if there is no difference between "people" and
>"citizens", then why does the Constitution deliberately use the two quite
>different terms?  And i don't believe that the meaning of the word "people"
>has changed in the last 250 years or so.  The drafters were brilliant
>men.  If they had meant citizen, I think they would have been quite
>explicit.  I believe the same of their use of the word people.

Not quite. First remember how the constitution works (or is supposed to).
It does not grant any rights to "the people" (people have rights
governments have powers) but rather grants specific powers to the federal
government. Powers not explicitly granted to the federal government or
prohibited to the states belong to the states or the people. Among those
granted is suppressing rights under very specific circumstances and only
then through due process. So the question is, does the constitution grant
the power to the federal government to suppress the rights of various
classes of "the people?" No right is absolute. Again IIRC, the SCOTUS has
interpreted the constitution to have 4 classes of "the people" each
afforded different degrees of protection. The only class entitled to full
constitutional rights is limited to natural born Americans who have reached
the age of majority. Naturalized citizens enjoy all but one right (i.e. the
right to run for POTUS). Legal residents are entitled to rights associated
with most civil liberties but not to those associated with participating in
government. Illegal residents are mostly limited to human rights, as I said
previously, mostly due process. Citizens (including naturalized) are
entitled to the same rights, by the US government, on foreign soil as they
are in the US. Everyone else, on foreign soil have no rights protected by
the constitution. Military tribunals on foreign soil of non-citizens are
beyond the reach of the constitution and are subject only to military law.
Military tribunals on US soil are unconstitutional for legal residents and
citizens. They are completely constitutional for illegal immigrants as long
as  basic human rights are concerned (e.g. torture, forced labor,
starvation, denial of medical care for life threatening conditions,
indefinite incarceration without due process). If the illegal immigrant
requests political asylum, of course, it is a whole other ball game. The
kicker in this is posse commatatus. Military tribunals cannot preside over
issues associated with local or state violations. That is, they cannot act
on an illegal immigrant (other the to simply deport) for robbing the corner
gas station or killing the attendant. It gets real fuzzy if the act of the
illegal immigrant is considered an act of war or terrorism. There are
probably some things that will have to be tested in the courts.

- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dennis Putnam           Public Key can be obtained from:
Loganville, Ga.         <http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Estates/8573>
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