The Bores of Tripoli


Visiting Libya was illegal for Americans until just last year. (By the way, can some smart lawyer out there explain to me how the U.S. government can inhibit my freedom of assembly in countries with which we're not at war? Thanks.)

Anyway, if you've ever wondered what it's like to be a Connectictut Yankee in King Khadafi's Green Court, Michael Totten has written a lengthy descriptive account in the LA Weekly.

NEXT: When Darwin Meets Dickens

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  1. There’s an unintentionally funny line in this horror story: “If you go to Libya…”

  2. “I want to live in Lebanon. Beirut is the second Paris. It is civilized!”

    Whoa, that’s just… wow.

  3. “By the way, can some smart lawyer out there explain to me how the U.S. government can inhibit my freedom of assembly in countries with which we’re not at war?”

    Simple: There is no clearly defined right to travel in the Constitution. As the D.C. Circuit summarized in Hutchins v. District of Columbia, 188 F.3d 531, 537 (D.C. Cir. 1999):

    Although appellees cite numerous cases in support of the proposition that “the right to free movement is as old as the Republic,” the cases do not support such a sweeping assertion. It is true that the right to interstate travel is well-established. Although the precise source of this right remains somewhat obscure, its origins reflect a concern over state discrimination against outsiders rather than concerns over the general ability to move about. The Court has suggested on occasion that some more generalized right to movement may exist. But those comments are only dicta–the cases involved travel across borders, not mere “locomotion.” Indeed, the Supreme Court in Memorial Hospital v. Maricopa County, cast strong doubt on the idea that there was a fundamental right to free movement, noting that “[e]ven a bona fide residence requirement would burden the right to travel if travel meant merely movement.” In any event, the Court subsequently made clear that any right to travel involved in Kent and Aptheker was distinct from the recognized right to interstate travel, explaining that international travel is no more than an aspect of liberty that is subject to reasonable government regulation within the bounds of due process, whereas interstate travel is a fundamental right subject to a more exacting standard. Since the right to free movement would cover both interstate and international travel, Agee at least implies that the right recognized by the Court is decidedly more narrow.

    [I deleted a huge number of citations from this passage to make it readable. I’d highly recommend checking out the citations.]

  4. SR — Thanks! I shall seek my relief statutorily, then.

  5. I damn these courts to hell! Don’t law school students have to read the ninth amendment? did they forget what it says sometime between the bar exam and their appointment to the bench? &^%*^%)*&^(*&%

  6. Beirut is the second Paris.

    Except your car is safer in Beirut.

  7. Although the precise source of this right remains somewhat obscure




    The source? The source??? The source of this right (like all positive rights) is ourselves. It is one of those inalienable rights that moonbat Jefferson was whining about. Travel is a fundamental component of privacy rights, economic rights, self defense rights (if you are accused of a crime in another land, you should be able to travel to that land to defend yourself). Not to mention the notion of limited government that those moonbat framers of the Constitution set up.

    When did the East German judiciary join the DC Circuit?

  8. Sounds like Libya is ripe for some liberation.

  9. There is no clearly defined right to travel in the Constitution.

    So what kind of restrictions on international travel would be unconstitutional? Surely the government would not be constitutionally permitted
    to prohibit citizens from leaving the US at all.

  10. It seems to me that with the interstate commerce clause and the vague areas upon which it’s increasingly applied, it would seem reasonable that it would be equally easy for the feds to limit INTERstate travel as much as extra-national travel. Not that there’d be any reason to do so, but it seems that the feds retain that right, regardless of the ninth amendment. And it seems that they could easily assert any number of effects to interstate commerce justifying any or all manner of interstate travel restrictions.

  11. Wow, that’s a cool article. It makes me wonder just what the heck Ghaddafi did that made the administration warm up to him. What service could he have rendered to warrant decent treatment, given the shitty state of the country he oppresses?

  12. Larry, all he had to do was give up trying to build WMD. I didn’t follow the story too much when it came out, but that’s what it looks like from a quick look at the CNN archives.

    Maybe the “lethargy” that Totten referred to (“Libya is a totalitarian police state. But it?s an awfully lethargic totalitarian police state.”) reaches all the way to the top?

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