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Wheel Reinventing

Gabe Rottman,
Legislative Counsel,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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April 23, 2007

Adam Liptak at the Times has a heck of a food-for-thought piece in the Times this morning [subscription req’d]. He lays out the mindboggling inconsistency between the fate of John Walker Lindh and the other high-profile detainees swept up in the post-9/11 furor. Lindh is currently serving a 20-year sentence for helping the Taliban, while Yaser Hamdi, the Saudi-American citizen detained as an enemy combatant after being picked up in Afghanistan, is now free and clear and living in Saudi Arabia. Lindh gets maximum-security at one of the toughest federal prisons in America; Hamdi gets travel restrictions.Then there’s David Hicks, who I blogged about last week. He got nine months in a plea deal pregnant with diplomatic shenanigans.What’s the point? Well, it ties directly into the larger complaint about Guantanamo, the DTA and the MCA. We have rule of law for a reason. When you start picking at its seams, the whole thing tends to unravel. When you go lawless, bad, unintended, unfair, and inconsistent things tend to happen. We have a system for punishing the guilty and protecting the innocent. The big mistake of this administration was its attempt to reinvent the wheel.

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