Friday, December 17, 2004

High Court Overturns Anti-Terrorism Law...

... in Britain, not in the United States. A special panel of judges in the House of Lords ruled yesterday that the anti-terrorism law passed right after 9/11, which allows the British government to detain foreigners suspected of terrorist activity indefinitely, without charges, without being shown the evidence against them, and without access to attorneys, is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. This decision goes much further than the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last June, which stated only that detainees being held in Guantanamo, Cuba; and in the United States, have the right to challenge their detention.

Lord Leonard Hoffman, one of the nine judges who handed down the decision, said that the anti-terrorism law threatened the most basic and oldest freedom in a democracy: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. That right is the basis for the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which forbids "unreasonable search and seizure" without probable cause.

[Lord Hoffman] went on to say that the government's actions posed a greater threat to the nation than terrorism. "The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these.... That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve. It is for Parliament to decide whether to give the terrorists such a victory."

What was very curious to me was that there was no mention in the coverage of this major event of the Bush administration's response to such an extraordinary victory for liberty -- at least not in the New York Times and in the Washington Post

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