Labelling “terrorists”

 

This whole Greenwald post is worth a read, but I couldn't let this paragraph go by without appropriating it for my blog:

It's not really "complex" to understand this:  the fact that the U.S. Government accuses someone of X does not mean that they are actually guilty of X. 
That's true even where "X = Terrorist."  That's why, in America, we
have these things called "trials" and "due process."  Sometimes
the Government is wrong.  Sometimes it is inept.  Sometimes it is
corrupt and tyrannical.  Therefore, these things we call "checks" are
necessary before we assume that Government accusations are true and
before we allow the Government to put people into cages for life.  We
don't actually know that someone is a "Terrorist" until a trial, with
due process, establishes that the Government's accusations are true.  

Is
that such a difficult concept to understand?  This isn't actually a new
or exotic idea for the United States.  It's actually about as
fundamental to the American founding as an idea can get.  Thomas Jefferson articulated it pretty clearly in a 1789 letter to Thomas Paine:  "I
consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man,
by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution
."

 

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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