I am, to put it lightly, pissed off right now. If there is a greater example than the request that the Obama Administration made of the Supreme Court on October, 18 2010 of how the “Change!” that Obama promised he represented was a lie I would like to see it. “Change” is not covering the ass of the powerful and the political class.
A little history about why I’m pissed first.
Sami al-Hussayen was a graduate student in computer science who volunteered his time as a webmaster for a legal Islamic charity. He was arrested on charges that he gave incorrect information on his immigration forms. The government under the Bush Administration then tired to convict him on charges of terrorism. He was acquitted based on the fact that the Ashcroft Justice Department had no proof of terrorist activities.
While this was going on the Ashcroft Justice Department picked up a young man, Abdullah al-Kidd, in March 2003 at Dulles International Airport. al-Kidd was an American citizen, he was once even a star running back at the University of Idaho, who converted to Islam and who was picked up on a “material witness” warrant as he was about to fly to Saudi Arabia. The claim forming the bases of this was that he could give testimony, supposedly vitally needed testimony, in the al-Hussayen case.
Unfortunately, that was about the only thing that was even half true about what was said by the Federal Agents who obtained the warrant. al-Kidd’s arrest warrant was partly based on misrepresentations and omissions of the facts.
Federal agents claimed that he was about to fly to Saudi Arabia on a one-way first-class ticket. This was a lie. He had a roundtrip ticket that was for a seat in the coach section. When giving the information required for obtaining their warrant, agents neglected to mention that al-Kidd was an American citizen (as were his parents, his wife, and his two children) and that he had previously, willingly and fully cooperated with the FBI when its agents wanted to interview him.
al-Kidd was then detained in high security cells for a little over two weeks where he was subjected to multiple strip searches, sometimes kept naked and sometimes shackled at the hands and feet. After he was finally released from custody he was placed on a strictly supervised probation for some fifteen months.
He was never charged with a crime. He was never called on to appear as a material witness in the al-Hussayan case. By the time he was finally freed, his marriage had broken up and he’d lost his job.
So, to give you the short version of this mess, our government, the government of the United States of America, arrested and imprisoned one man (al-Hussayen) on questionable charges that it could not prove. They then compounded this folly by arresting and detaining another man (al-Kidd) on the pretext that his testimony was required in the case against the first man and more or less destroyed his life as he knew it.
al-Kidd then did what just about any other American might do. He got some lawyers, got some legal help and sued.
The Bush Administration tried to prevent this. They claimed, amongst other things, that actions of the Attorney General were immune to prosecution for wrong doings not just while he or she is serving but also after they have stepped down. Their position was, essentially, that the actions of the Attorney General were beyond legal redress. The main argument of their claim wasn’t even that they did nothing wrong, they simply said that no one should be able to take the AG to court; ever; period.
I thought that this was outrageous at the time. Here was an Administration and a Justice Department that had been engaging in systemic and insane illegalities in the name of “freedom” (http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/0306/index.htm) and now they were trying to rig the system in their favor to cover their asses. Now they were trying to claim that they could do whatever they pleased and if they stepped on and destroyed the lives of “the little people” in America then Americans had no legal recourse.
Finally, on September 4, 2009, a decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that John Ashcroft could be held liable for the unconstitutional arrest and treatment of Abdullah al-Kidd. It should be noted that the Court did not rule on the merits of al-Kidd’s constitutional claim. This was a procedural ruling only that rejected Ashcroft’s claims of immunity and declared that the lawsuit against him could go forward. After a long fight it seemed that al-Kidd might finally have his chance to prove his claims and get justice for what was done to him.
Not so fast…
On October 18, 2010 the Obama Administration and the Holder Justice Department challenged this ruling. They went to and requested that the Supreme Court review the ruling that took away former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s immunity in this lawsuit. A part of their rationale for this is that they apparently also feel that an Attorney General should have this type of perpetual immunity.
Anyone who cares at all about what this country stands for and the principles it was supposedly founded on should be outraged by this. Our Founding Fathers knew what life in countries under a monarchy, under a true ruling class, was like. They knew that in a system like that there was injustice for “the little people” who weren’t in the ruling class or wealthy enough to be favored by the ruling class. They knew that a system like that far too often lead to dictators and dictatorships.
Too many things that the Bush Administration did smacked of the kind of thinking that the Founding Fathers found distasteful in countries long ruled by monarchies. Chief amongst those things was the thinking that no one in the Bush Administration, the ruling class, should be held legally accountable for wrong doings. Immunity should be bestowed upon any of them and where it couldn’t be given the wave of the Presidential pen would see to it that you didn’t have to serve your time. After all, just the indignity of having been tried and sentenced was more than enough hardship for the Ruling Class.
But then they left and the next President wasn’t a Republican. They left and supposedly the incoming Administration was going to fix a few things in DC.
Now, I never bought the whole idea of Obama being a new kind of politician. I cautioned some people I knew that they shouldn’t buy the “Change!” hype since most of Obama’s change looked in the details pretty much like every other Democrats details and a lot like his then chief rival for the nomination Hillary’s details. But I at least expected a change in matters like this.
The Obama Administration has chosen to act like the “Ruling Class” every bit as much as the Bush Administration before them. They have chosen to take the position, to take the side of the idea saying, that you cannot even seek to legally have wrongdoings by the elite ruling class redressed in our court system. They are taking not the position that al-Kidd has no case, but rather they are taking the position that al-Kidd, and by extension you and me, have no right whatsoever to have a wrong against us corrected and have justice served if the wrong is done, even with knowledge that the act being done is wrong, by the new ruling class.
It doesn’t even matter what the Supreme Court rules here insofar as Obama’s stupidity here. It would be a travesty if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ashcroft here, but even if they rule in favor of al-Kidd it lessens not one bit the incredible arrogance on display here as well as the level of disdain for the common man.
Obama and his Justice Department have, just by requesting this action, already said that we don’t matter because we’re not wealthy enough or powerful enough to matter and that when the ruling class knowingly abuses their power and abuses us with it we should just take it, shut up and go away.
Much in the same way I’m now very much hoping to see Obama go away in two years’ time.