Saturday, March 15, 2008

Those darned amendments

Maybe the drafters of the U.S. Constitution had it right, from the beginning. The Bill of Rights — you know, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial — aren't part of the original document but were added. They're the first 10 amendments. Maybe we all should be like Michael Mukasey, the attorney general, and figure they can be ignored because they came later, like a woman's right to vote. Speaking today at the London School of Economics, Mukasey recommended against the death penalty for six Guantanamo Bay prisoners charged with involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. "I hope they don't get the death penalty — they would see themselves as martyrs," Mukasey said, according to the Reuters international news service. "If those are not poster children for the death penalty, I don't know what is." That may very well be true, but there's a very big problem — they haven't been tried yet. An attorney representing one of the detainees, Army Lt. Col. Bryan Broyles, said the death penalty case against his client, Mohammed al-Qahtani, had already been tainted by suspected abuse of the prisoner and that Mukasey's comments were improper. "I appreciate him being on my side on the death penalty thing, but I don't need his help," Broyles said, according to Reuters. Larry Cox of Amnesty International USA called Mukasey's comments "extremely disturbing." "You have the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the country indicating that he thinks they are guilty," Cox said. The Pentagon declined to comment. Charges have been filed against of 13 of Guantanamo Bay's more than 275 prisoners.

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