Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Illegal Detention Centers

Dear Senator Bayh,
"No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Being a Senator, you obviously realize this passage is from the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. I am sure you are also aware that the Fifth Amendment explains that these rights can only be suspended through fair and legal procedures. Due process has very deep roots, as well. Aristotle once said that the rule of law formed the very best state, because that state was ruled by laws, not men. The problem is that Aristotle would not think that the United States of America was the best state. Every day, the law is throwing due process out the window. Instead of laws, men now govern our state, since they are illegally holding people as so-called “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay. These people have the right to due process; yet, every day they are denied one of the rights that make this country so great. As a man who takes great pride in the country he lives in and is grateful to the opportunities presented to him, I am outraged that one of the foundations of our country is being avoided so that we can justify our paranoia. I understand the country’s outrage over 9/11, because I, like many people, lost a friend who worked in those towers. The image is engraved in my head, and it haunts me to this day. However, our paranoia and frustration should not make us illegally detain people at Guantanamo.
Since the facility’s opening in 2002, 775 detainees were deemed as “enemy combatants.” Some of these detainees are United States citizens. The idea of the camp was to hold people for questioning and send them home if they have been cleared; yet, twenty percent of the 355 people held there have been granted their release as many as three years ago but have not been released yet. This is simply not acceptable. This is an utter violation of human rights and the U.S. Constitution, but it gets worse. Some of the detainees are transported to foreign countries so they can be tortured. Also, the other eighty percent of the men are being held without charge under indefinite detention. Clearly, this is a violation of common law, human rights, and the United States Constitution. Something must be done.
Amnesty International has made a 13-point plan outlining necessary steps to be taken to shut down Guantanamo and many secret detention centers run by the United States Government. The first step, which I have completed already, involves signing an electronic petition. This shows your support in ending illegal detention centers. Once the pledge is signed, you receive additional information from Amnesty International on how you can contribute. Senator Bayh, I strongly encourage and hope you visit and sign the same pledge as me and many other people from around the world. This is the first step to ending the existence of illegal detention centers ran by the U.S. Government. Once Guantanamo is closed, the rest will fall. Finally, Aristotle could recognize us as the best state again.
Counter-terrorism is necessary, but it should not alienate common law, human rights, and the United States Constitution. The government was designed to be “ran by the people, for the people.” The laws that govern us give us the great freedom that has provided Americans with countless opportunities. I cannot believe that what has been happening at Guantanamo has yet to stop. It is an embarrassment to our country. Amnesty International and the detainees need your help. You, as a United States Senator, could single-handedly change the tide of this battle. Sign the petition. Speak out against this obvious violation of human rights. The detainees are without “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Mike Schultz, proud and concerned American Citizen

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