29 December 2006

Condemned Iraqis Seek Constitutional Protection

Just when you think that the name United States Constitution would limit the application of that document to those either within the geographical confines of or citizens of the United States, there are some strange requests for applying it far and wide…and to people who just don’t deserve it in any way at all.

At the moment, lawyers for Saddam have filed for a stay of execution in US District Court in Washington, based on the fact that Saddam is listed as a defendant in a civil suit in the US. As stated in the article, if he’s executed, he will lose his “rights as a civil defendant,” according to his lawyers. So, how is it that a foreign national (and an infamous one, at that) can expect protection from US courts as he awaits his execution, which was handed down by another country? That doesn’t even make non-sense.

To boot, the article goes on to describe another “please help me” cry from a condemned Iraqi:

A similar request by the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, Awad Hamed al-Bandar, was denied Thursday and is under appeal. Al-Bandar also faces execution. The Justice Department argued in that case that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction to interfere with the judicial process of another country.
Al-Bandar argued that his trial violated his rights under the U.S. Constitution but Justice countered that foreigners being tried in foreign courts are not protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The appeals court did not indicate when it would rule on the issue.

So, just as some members of the American judicial system make reference to international and extra-national law trumping (or supplementing) the Constitution, foreigners have come to demand protection under what for them is foreign law. It’s a dance of convenience, seeking refuge in what ever set of rules furthers your goals. If the Iraqi laws are too harsh (i.e. sentenced you to death), try to get covered by another set of laws. If the US Constitution doesn’t have the verbiage you need to support your own point of view, just take a look at other (more “enlightened”) societies for precedent.

I just love the irony of these two men seeking shelter under the very legal system which was used to choose the leaders which deposed them. However, it is also highly troubling that our enemies, even at the moment of their ultimate end, find ways to use our own institutions to their advantage. While Saddam and al-Bandar probably will not succeed (or won’t be alive to find out the US courts’ decisions), bad people everywhere use our institutions to create and exacerbate cracks in our society every day.

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