The Presumption of Innocence
In the United States of America all people accused of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. While this presumption of innocence is not directly covered in the Constitution it is an outgrowth of the 5th 6th and 14th amendments.
“The 5th amendment protects witnesses from being forced to incriminate themselves. To “plead the Fifth” is to refuse to answer a question because the response could provide self-incriminating evidence of an illegal conduct punished by fines, penalties or forfeiture.
Historically, the legal protection against self-incrimination is directly related to the question of torture for extracting information and confessions. Information gathered in that manner can’t be used in a court of law.
The 6th Amendment
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
The 14th Amendment
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The accused Time Square Bomber, one Faisal Shahzad is a naturalized American Citizen. He is subject to the laws of the jurisdiction where his alleged crime was committed. That jurisdiction is New York City in the state of New York, not Washington DC. Like any other citizen he is entitled to due process under the laws of our state. In a court of law, not the court of public opinion or the court of Republican Senators John McCain, John Cornyn and Republican Congressman Peter King.
Unlike Timothy McVeigh or Theodore Kacynski his crime was not committed on Federal property. As an American Citizen he is not able to be tried in a military tribunal. As an American Citizen he was entitled to be Mirandized. As an American Citizen he can’t be tortured because he is a suspect in a crime. All of his rights as an accused criminal are guaranteed to him under our Constitution and anyone who believes otherwise should remember that if his rights can be violated, so can anyone elses.
There’s also something else that’s bothering me. John McCain was a Vietnamese POW and was tortured as such. He states that he never broke under that torture and gave them any information. Why is he so insistent on being tough on terrorists when his own personal experience should tell him that torture doesn’t work? How can it not have worked on him, yet he believes that good information can be gathered by those tactics? Maybe all this is nothing more than a true example of who he really is, a man that believes in punishing criminals in a sadistic, inhumane manner? I nearly voted for him to become our President. That scares me more than Faisal Shahzad does.
I find it puzzling that elected officials that are sworn to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America” seem not to understand what rights are guaranteed under that Constitution. If they do understand and still continue to make an issue over Shahzad having been Mirandized then I must conclude they are looking for some sort of political gain. Joe Lieberman wants Shahzad’s citizenship stripped from him. Mind you, he’s not yet been convicted of anything. Neither McVeigh nor Kacynski had their citizenships stripped, and they actually hurt people.
I don’t care what color someone’s skin is, or what country they originated from. When elected officials begin to demand that an alleged criminal’s rights should be forfeited, then they are undermining the very basis of every citizens rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. People died so we could have those rights. I believe the judicial process that they defended with their lives should be allowed to go forth in a manner that is honorable and just. It should not be tainted by partisian politics.