Thu, 22 Jan 2009 22:03:48 +0000 – By Judge Andrew NapolitanoSenior Judicial Analyst/FOX News Channel
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" President George W. Bush has managed to turn Sir Walter Scott's profound words into his own reality. After 9/11, he asked his advisers to find a place on the planet where the government could do what it wished to foreign prisoners; without following the U.S. Constitution, without obeying federal laws, without complying with international treaties, and without having to answer to the courts. They thought they found such a place for him: It's called Guantanamo Bay.
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Following the tragic events of 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror, President Bush and his administration also built secret prison camps around the world to house and to torture those they arrested and from whom they wanted to extract intelligence data. The most infamous of these prisons is 90 miles from our southern shore. I have visited this detention camp and can tell you personally, it represents all that our great nation is opposed to; the most important of which is the rule of law.
No matter how evil the government says those whom it has detained may be, they have the same natural rights as you and I do, and that includes the right to a fair trial before a jury here in the U.S.President Barack Obama was elected in a landslide. He has promised many things and many changes, among them the closure of Gitmo and the secret prisons, and compliance with the rule of law. Today, President Obama signed an executive order today directing the military and the C.I.A. to close Guantanamo and what remains of the previous administrations' secret prison network.
Here's what I think. The Declaration of Independence says that our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come from our humanity not from the government. These rights belong to all persons and the Constitution does not limit its protections to just Americans or to only good people. It protects all persons no matter where they come from or what the government says they have done. The Supreme Court has recognized this in the law and now President Obama has recognized it in fact. No matter how evil the government says those whom it has detained may be, they have the same natural rights as you and I do, and that includes the right to a fair trial before a jury here in the U.S. These are the very American values for which we have shed generations of blood, and which make us happily unique in all the world.
Judge Andrew Napolitano, who was on the bench of the Superior Court of New Jersey between 1987 and 1995, is the senior judicial analyst at the Fox News Channel. His latest book is "A Nation of Sheep."
Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. He joined FNC in January 1998. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is “Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom.” To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.