Thursday, July 26, 2007

State of the 5th Amendment

Scary stuff happening to the Rule of Law around here:

First point is a Presidential Order issued on July 17, 2007, that effectively suspends/repeals the 5th Amendment ("nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;") for any person who "poses a significant risk of" undermining the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq. Also see story on Slashdot, and an article minimizing the language on the Guardian UK's web site.

Wait, so Democrats can have their property be frozen (i.e. seized)? Can my property be seized, for posting this article? Check that wording, and get back to me. It sounds very ripe for abuse.

While we're on the subject of due process, bill HR 2640, just passed back to the House from the Senate is also an assault on this. The bill was introduced in response to the VA Tech shootings, and seeks to "strengthen the NICS system." The NICS (National Instant (Background) Check System) is the database state police departments use when processing a firearms purchase, and contains records of all convictions, pending charges, and other court judgments against a person.

In this case it deals with firearms, so many readers won't care. Some pro-gun organizations have stated that the language therein is subject to mis-interpretation, allowing an attorney general to effectively prohibit an individual from possessing or acquiring a firearm without due process. The NRA's lobbying group at this time states that this is not the case, but that the bill will likely have some other controls attached to it by the time it passes the second reading in the house. Apparently the NRA is backing some clarifying language, of course opposed by gun-control groups.

A possible amendment could be that seeking counseling or psychiatric treatment could allow you to be placed on the "blocked list". Most mental health professionals are pretty opposed to firearms ownership, so probably mentioning the word gun would cause this. Treatment for PTSD would be a prime example, which would be ironic: you serve your country in a war abroad, see things nobody should have to see, come back, and you're no longer allowed to have firearms. See a blog entry on the Washington Post, the Huffington Post.

Scary stuff.

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