by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom Foundation
When one considers the Bill of Rights, an obvious question arises: Why did our American ancestors demand the enactment of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments?
The answer is simple: Our ancestors believed that in the absence of those amendments, U.S. officials would end up subjecting people to the types of things that those amendments restricted. That is, if there was no Bill of Rights, U.S. officials would be jailing people indefinitely, torturing them, killing them, and mistreating them, all without such procedural guarantees as trial by jury, protection against forced confessions, the right to have a defense attorney, the right to a speedy trial, the right to cross examine witnesses and to summon witnesses, the right to be formally notified of criminal charges, the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments, the right to be free of unreasonable searches, and the right to due process of law.
Of course, there are those today who would argue that our American ancestors were being paranoid. Federal officials would never do such things, they would suggest, especially to the American people. After all, they would point out, federal officials are Americans too. Moreover, they swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution. The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments are antiquated and superfluous, they would say, because U.S. officials would follow the principles enunciated in those amendments without being required to do so by the Bill of Rights.
Unfortunately, however, those who say such things are woefully misguided. The fact is that our ancestors were brilliant in foreseeing that those amendments were absolutely necessary. In the absence of those amendments, there is no doubt that federal officials would be doing the things that those amendments meant to restrict.
How do we know this? We know it because of what federal officials have done in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Consider the Pentagon’s and CIA’s prison and judicial system at Guantanamo Bay. In the beginning, the Pentagon and the CIA took the position that Gitmo would be entirely independent of the Constitution and the federal judiciary. It claimed the authority to establish its version of an ideal prison camp and judicial system without any outside interference.
What type of system did the Pentagon and the CIA establish when they were setting up what they considered to be a model prison and judicial system? Wouldn’t you think that the system would be one that would be modeled after the one that our American ancestors chose?Details