What Ever Happened to "Extremism in Defense of Liberty is No Vice"?

It's more than a little ironic that conservatives think the first order of business when fighting terror is to sacrifice freedom.

|

Michael Wayne Hash served 12 years of his life sentence for the 1996 murder of 74-year-old Thelma Scroggins in Culpeper, Va. On Wednesday, Hash was released after federal district judge James Turk overturned his conviction. Turk cited "outrageous conduct" and "extreme malfunction" by law enforcement and prosecutors, including reliance on the dubious testimony of a jailhouse snitch and another witness who later recanted.

About this time last year Thomas Haynesworth walked out of Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia – a free man for the first time in 27 years. Nine months later, the Virginia Supreme Court granted Haynesworth a writ of actual innocence, exonerating him completely of the crimes for which he had been convicted.

Most people would consider anyone who spent so much time locked up for something he did not do to have the world's worst luck. But both Hash and Haynesworth had incredibly good fortune in at least one regard: They had been charged with specific crimes, so it was possible – eventually – to exonerate them.

Imagine for a moment that either man had been arrested and locked up – but not charged. Imagine his family, his friends, and his lawyers demanding to know why he had been taken into custody so they could mount a credible defense. Imagine the government telling them there was no need for a defense because there would be no trial, because there were no charges to defend against. The arrested man wasn't going to be charged – and he wasn't going to be released. Ever.

The prevention of such a grotesque outrage is written into the Constitution – in Article I, Section 9, which prohibits suspending the right of habeas corpus except in cases of rebellion or invasion. Nevertheless, earlier this year Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes the indefinite detention, without charge or trial, of American citizens by the U.S. military.

Taking a page out of George W. Bush's book, Obama included a signing statement indicating that he would disregard the parts of the law he does not like, including the detention provision. But his forbearance, while welcome, does not constrain future presidents. (It does not even constrain him, for that matter; he can change his mind at any time.)

That is why Del. Bob Marshall introduced legislation – HB1160 – in the recently concluded General Assembly session forbidding state and local law-enforcement agents to aid in any arrest that might lead to such indefinite detention. The bill awaits action by Gov. Bob McDonnell, who should sign it.

Marshall, author also of the widely reviled fetal-personhood measure, and a 2010 bill seeking to exempt Virginians from the insurance mandate in Obamacare, has the support of liberal Democrats this time. It's his conservative Republican teammates who have tried to scuttle the bill.

Too many conservatives feel complacent about soldiers arresting citizens without charges and holding them indefinitely on the mere suspicion of cooperating with al-Qaida. Perhaps they do not remember Madison's warning that "the means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home." But they ought to remember the early 1990s, when militia groups sprang up in the wake of Ruby Ridge and Waco to defend the Constitution against what the NRA's Wayne LaPierre termed the "jack-booted thugs" of the federal government. Just because the Bush administration adopted indefinite detention doesn't make it a good idea.

If they cannot remember even that far back, then perhaps they can remember all the way back to 2009, when outrage erupted over a Department of Homeland Security report that focused on domestic "rightwing extremism" – including returning veterans, abortion opponents, and anyone "rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority." Some people who call members of the Tea Party terrorists think they are speaking literal truth.

Conservatives who cannot remember even back to 2009 at least ought to remember that any indefinite detention would be ordered by the same authorities who are nationalizing health care and trampling the fundamental First Amendment rights of Catholic institutions. Distrust of federal authorities is a good thing, and should not be summarily suspended just because someone utters the two magic words, "national security."

It's more than a little ironic that conservatives, who are fond of saying that terrorists "hate us for our freedom," think the first order of business when fighting terror is to sacrifice freedom. How quickly they have gone from "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice" to "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where this column originally appeared. 

NEXT: Dramatic Wonk Walk! Paul Ryan Previews His Upcoming Budget Plan

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. You have to admit that dude is making a lot of sense man.

    http://www.Anon-World.tk

  2. Nine months later, the Virginia Supreme Court granted Haynesworth a writ of actual innocence, exonerating him completely of the crimes for which he had been convicted.

    Awfully white of them, it was.

    1. …is the most extreme defender of liberty I know.

      He doesn’t just spout axioms and wishes, he’s studied history, anthropology, evolutionary biology.

      And he’s willing to take on the agriculutral city-Statists and call them on their lies.

      Strangely, self-styled “libertarians” become neo-conish in their behavior, and begin arguing utilitarian arguments about how wonderful agricultural city-Statism’s progress is.

      “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” is exactly where his pro-Gambol Lockdown detractors stand.

      1. White Indian speaks of himself in the third person. Only winners do that.

        White Indian, the Ron Artest Metta World Peace of Hit and Run.

        1. next, regurgitate “straw man” and “non sequitur,” ok?

          1. Wasn’t a comment on your grammar, though if you were half as smart as you think you are then that should have been obvious.

            1. why you so mad, bro, that I rode into your camp and took your Statist-calling weapon and turned it on you?

      2. State-Enforced casino monopolies for Billionaire Tribal Chieftains.

        1. …conflates federal reservation life after the conquest with Non-State society.

          You’re as dishonest as Joe Biden.

          1. Not possible.

      3. calls for defunding Leviathon, cheers….that has not happened….so it remains “if you’re not joining the tribe, the WI-sponsored IRS SWAT team will beat you.”

        1. Give me a round of cheers, Fibertard.

          1. …their word.

            Words are cheap in Fibertarian-land.

      4. How are you talking to us if you’re gamboling about field and plain? Did one of those wireless companies make you a mobile hotspot like they did with the homeless in Austin?

        What’s that? You’re too fat and stupid to gambol? Don’t be so hard on yourself man, I’m sure you’ll get around to it.

        1. …in your political philosophy.

          It matters not what my personal situation is (but keep bringing it up, as it shows how intellectually bankrupt you really are.)

          1. I’m not sure how blathering about how great life was in the neolithic period is pointing out the “contradictions” in my philosophy.

            Pointing out that you are doing a piss poor job of gamboling and living as you preach DOES illustrate the contradictions in YOUR political philosophy.

            1. Has to keep up the personal bullshit.

              Meanwhile, you evade that city-Statism’s excuse for existence is that it is somehow better than the past.

              Fibertard gonna be Fibertard.

          2. WI copy/pastes 3 articles and a handful of pre-written posts and thinks it is an argument.

      5. Hey Indian…..we all stand prostrate before your incredible intellect and powerless before your wilderness skills….but have a care…..identify yourself and end the controversy.

        Godesky or Rectal!?

        1. …in your political philosophy.

          It matters not what my personal situation is (but keep bringing it up, as it shows how intellectually bankrupt you really are.)

          1. WI copy/pastes 3 articles and a handful of pre-written posts and thinks it is an argument.

      6. He doesn’t just spout axioms and wishes, he’s studied history, anthropology, evolutionary biology.

        And humble, too… not a blowhard agent provocateur.

  3. Barry Goldwater would probably be drummed out of the Republican Party today. Or, more likely, he would have left in disgust.

  4. “…this year Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes the indefinite detention, without charge or trial, of American citizens by the U.S. military.”

    In my opinion the federal government has finally completely delegitimizing itself.

    1. Putting the NDAA together with the fact that almost every agency of this ‘government’ is armed to the teeth now with swat teams, tanks, machine guns, etc. paints a pretty sinister picture.

      1. And, as Dean pointed out in the brickbat thread, they are using banana republic thugism by going after anyone who dares to speak out against government over-reach using the IRS…who also has swat teams, tanks, machineguns.

        Pull a Patrick Henry these days and they will shoot your dog, burn your house down, take all of your money, and throw you, and maybe your friends/or family too, in Gitmo forever. Henry got off easy apparently.

        1. you beat me to it sb.

          1. Those armed men are working on your behalf, and for your own good.

            1. Yep.

              WE NEED GUMMIT, DAMMIT, TO PROTECT WHAT WE STOLE. WE JUST DON’T WANT NO MORE STEALIN’ NOW THAT THE STEALIN’ IS DONE

              “[The Native Americans] didn’t have any rights to the land … Any white person who brought the element of civilization had THE RIGHT TO TAKE over this continent.”

              ~Ayn Rand, US Military Academy at West Point, March 6, 1974

              1. Didn’t the native Americans steal the land from the previous native Americans that settled before they did? It’s not like they never went to war with each other. Maybe we should give the 13 colonies back to Great Brittan also.

                1. Hey, he’s initiating aggression, so I guess I can too!

                  Nice bit of fibertarian logic there, chief.

                  1. Listen dipshit, the founding fathers were also socialists so shut the fuck up.

                    Socialists Indians do more poorly than Libertarian Indians, look up economic data on Indians that are not allowed to build private property on reservations.

                    1. The Commerce clause sounds very amorphous and vague, one of the flaws of our constitution imo. So is the Necessary and Proper Clause, no one even knows what the fuck that means.

                  2. Because there’s no provision for self-defense in libertarian ideology? Good point.

              2. WI copy/pastes 3 articles and a handful of pre-written posts and thinks it is an argument.

    2. With all that detention power, no one would dare bring up impeachment charges against……….

      1. I hadnt thought of that, and I will bet the congresscritters who wrote and passed the piece of shit didnt either. I am betting they all just assumed they would be exempt.

    3. Comedy Gold, and some the best reporting on NDAA:

      http://www.thedailyshow.com/wa…..evelopment

      http://www.thedailyshow.com/wa…..n-to-gitmo

      1. After viewing these old clips, it seems like John Stewart had the antiquated notion that “due process” necessary involves judicial process.

        Let me be clear, due process is not the same as judicial process. Due process is what the President says it is.

  5. “Too many conservatives feel complacent” etc.

    As opposed the liberals, who poured into the streets to protest NDAA and denounce Obama.

    1. And then will turn around and vote for him in november.

    2. “May I wipe your ass again, Mr President? — I’ll lick it clean afterwords.”

      1. [arms flailing] “Move the fuck away, you cunt — I’m first.”

        1. “Oh, calm down boys, you’ll all get a chance.”

        2. “I know I am first in line.”

          1. “I swear his shit smells like pink powder.”

            1. Even I want in on that.

    3. ….to see so many of the Hollywood heroes backing the Military Interventionist and Security state. And with gusto. No protest at ALL.

    4. “”As opposed the liberals, who poured into the streets to protest NDAA and denounce Obama.””

      How many liberals were reading the Constitution in a session of Congress to pretend they were going to honor it?

      Liberal are not any better, but they don’t give it the lip service in the way many conservatives. Conservatives try much harder to convince you they give a shit about the Constitution.

      1. That thing is, like, over a hundred years old. Besides, it’s racist.

        1. You’re a Facist, the Constitution is what the President promises to uphold.

          If he doesn’t like it then make suggestions to change it, also it does not seem racist the way it is applied today.

          Affirmative action is fucking racist.

    5. bad about a republican without chiming in about liberals! But we’re not GOP shills!

      1. Fibertarians are just Republicans who want to smoke pot. Or really fuck over their neighbors somehow.

        I WANT TO OWN THE WHOLE WORLD AND HAVE YOU PAY ME RENT TO LIVE ON IT, OR STARVE, MOFO.

        1. Socialists had their chance, too bad Central planning is inferior to free people making their own choices.

          1. Go ahead, deny it, but it is.

  6. It is funny the government keeps demanding more and more power to fix more and more problems, while their power grows to infinite proportions, the problems all either remain unchanged or grow in severity.

    Jesus fucking christ, how can this spectacle continue right in front of our eyes and the vast majority of us cannot see it?

    As Sharon points out, the nimrods will vote for the black jesus again this november. ( btw, nice legs Sharon! )

    1. Oh, but the problem isn’t that the government is inept. It’s just that people won’t do what they’re told. The people are obviously to dumb to know what’s best for them.

      1. And I’m obviously too dumb to put too dumb.

      2. I have been saying that all along. Geesh when are you plebs gonna catch up?

    2. …agricultural city-Statism, suthenboi?

      No? Then you’ll get it good and hard.

  7. I am betting they all just assumed they would be exempt.

    “This is our finest rope, sir; it should be just the thing. What are you planning to use it for, if I might have the temerity to inquire?”

  8. “”It’s more than a little ironic that conservatives think the first order of business when fighting terror is to sacrifice freedom.””

    It’s only ironic if you think conservative politicians are serious about the lip service they give the Constitution.

    Politicians want power, and love authority. They have power over authority by passing laws that enable authority, which extends to power over the citizenry.

    Extremely few politicians in the last 200+ years of our nation have ever been interested in freedom

    1. I bet that if the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed today, the courts would let them stand.

      1. You have no idea, sarcasmic.

      2. The problem is, I strongly doubt that only 1 person in 20 in the US even knows what the Alien and Sedition Acts were.

        To quote from above: “Jesus fucking christ, how can this spectacle continue right in front of our eyes and the vast majority of us cannot see it?”

        History and civics are no longer taught and most Americans are apparently only interested in the latest I-thing or O.D.’d singer, with the outcome that we here so clearly see.

        I note, not as a political plug, but as an observation, that Ron Paul typically garners about 10% of the primary votes. That is, very few Americans (or at least Republicans) are see a restoration of Liberty as worthy, or achievable, goal of the next administration.

        1. “””Jesus fucking christ, how can this spectacle continue right in front of our eyes and the vast majority of us cannot see it?”””

          People do see it, and they applaud.

          I have no faith in the public in general when it comes to freedom. Too many people think freedom ends when they become offended.

          “”I note, not as a political plug, but as an observation, that Ron Paul typically garners about 10% of the primary votes. That is, very few Americans (or at least Republicans) are see a restoration of Liberty as worthy, or achievable, goal of the next administration.””

          Exactly. The lack of interest in freedom will go far beyond this year’s election.

      3. “”I bet that if the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed today, the courts would let them stand.””

        It would also be popular with the citizenry.

        1. Its reinstitution is next on the agenda.

  9. Also at TNR

    Two months after Barack Obama’s inauguration, his administration filed its first brief in a constitutional habeas corpus case from GTMO. To Ratner’s astonishment, the brief argued for a broad power of indefinite military detention over GTMO detainees. “We really thought that Obama wouldn’t fight us in court on the rights of the detainees, that he would get the detainees either to another country or he would charge and try them,” Ratner later said.

  10. Fucking 900 character bullshit.

    But Obama did fight them. An administration task force determined that?as the Bush administration had long argued?few of the GTMO detainees (fewer than forty) could be brought to trial and that many of the rest remained dangerous. And Obama’s responsibilities as Commander in Chief caused him to see the dangers in a new light. Faced with these twin realities, and newly appreciative of congressional and judicial authorities established after 9/11, the administration decided it must defend military detention without trial at GTMO before the lower courts.

    “He only beats us because he loves us, honest! He knows best.”

  11. That was supposed to be on the Biden post, but what the fuck.

  12. if the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed today,

    it would be by a cumulative vote of 532-3 or thereabouts.

    1. I’m sure the Pauls would vote against it.
      Who is the third?

      1. Amash?

  13. Just to play Devil’s Advocate;

    Could it not be argued that the presence of Terrorist Cells in the United States constitutes an invasion?

    Not that I think that any of the current crop of grossly incompetent terrorist hunters are going to “suspend habeas corpus” according to the procedures that would make that legal anyway.

    1. Who are you calling “grossly incompetent terrorist hunters”?

    2. Could it not be argued that the presence of Terrorist Cells in the United States constitutes an invasion?

      Invasion (for these purposes, anyway) is traditionally the crossing of your borders by the armed forces of another nation.

      Terrorists aren’t the armed forces of another nation. Which is also why they aren’t entitled to be treated as POWs.

      1. If they’re armed and organized under a flag, it’s an invasion and military law applies. If they’re armed and not in uniform, they are criminals and criminal law applies. We do NOT need a third category unknowable, probably capricious laws, enforcement and penalties. In fact, that was one of the complaints about monarchy / aristocracy.

        1. —“If they’re armed and organized under a flag, it’s an invasion and military law applies.”—

          Military Law? Where does it say ANYWHERE that Military Law applies to anybody but the Military?

          The Military can be called in under Martial Law, but they enforce the state law or federal law. I can think of no cicumstance that citizens of the US are subject to military law if they are not members of the military.

          Am I wrong about this?

          1. I don’t think you’re wrong about that but I don’t think he means military law as in the UCMJ.

            1. But if the members of the “terrorist cells” are US citizens, then how do we get to the “unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion” trigger for suspending habeus corpus?

              Are domestic terrorists engaded in rebellion and does that trigger a general suspension for all citizens at the discretion of the executive? It seems to me they are criminals and civilian law applies.

              1. “”It seems to me they are criminals and civilian law applies.””

                It’s not a popular stance, but I agree.

                “”But if the members of the “terrorist cells” are US citizens, then how do we get to the “unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion” trigger for suspending habeus corpus?””

                Easy,

                1. Get a AUMF from Congress for a terrorist group and anyone connect to that terrorist group and throw in some vague language about like groups

                2. Claim US is part of the battlefield for the approved AUMF.

                3. Pass a domestic law that codifies 1 and 2 into US law.

                It’s not a general suspension anyway, it’s a targeted suspension of those who American citizens love to hate. You don’t want the terrorist to win do you?

    3. Then pretty much every western nation is suffering from an invasion at all times. Not a useful definition.

      1. Oh wrong….it’s a great definition. We’re always at war, always under attack.

        1. We have always been at war with Eastasia!

  14. It is kind of hard to believe that the executive and legislative have basically repealed the writ of habeous corpus, and the judiciary…just lets it happen. The judiciary may well serve a function as an arbiter in civil disputes, but as a check against the other two forms of government (according the to kool aid I was given in school), has ceased to exist.

  15. If you allow freedom, you lose control. And no power freak is going to do that. That is why Republicans and Democrats are not worth a shit.

  16. Could it not be argued that the presence of Terrorist Cells in the United States constitutes an invasion?

    You could get in trouble talking about the FBI that way.

  17. It’s more than a little ironic that some conservatives think the first order of business when fighting terror is to sacrifice freedom.

    FTFY

  18. “Too many conservatives feel complacent about soldiers arresting citizens without charges and holding them indefinitely on the mere suspicion of cooperating with al-Qaida.”

    I had no idea Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Nancy, Pelosi, and Harry Reid, e.g., were conservative.

    Why would anyone bother to pretend that statist authoritarianism is restricted to one side of the aisle?

    1. Maybe he only thinks one side has any hope of redemption.

    2. I think he’s talking about the HB1160 bill in Virginia.

      “Del. Bob Marshall introduced legislation ? HB1160 ? in the recently concluded General Assembly session forbidding state and local law-enforcement agents to aid in any arrest that might lead to such indefinite detention.”

      “has the support of liberal Democrats this time. It’s his conservative Republican teammates who have tried to scuttle the bill.”

      Virginia Conservative Republicans seem to oppose the bill, while lib Dems support it. As for the NDAA’s support on the national level, in the Senate there were 93 yea votes for this bill. Only 7 Senators voted against it including Senator Rand Paul, and the Socialist Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders. The Majority of conservatives and liberals alike voted for this thing. The destruction of our liberty is unfortunately a bipartisan game.

    3. Of course. The entire make-believe “left-right spectrum” is a deliberate ruse to trick as many people as possible into becoming conservative. Just as many D’s as R’s cry the crybaby cry that “You can’t DO THAT!”

    4. Why would anyone bother to pretend that statist authoritarianism is restricted to one side of the aisle?

      Who is pretending that? The article clearly states that Obama signed the NDAA.

  19. Libertarians being worried about conservatives taking way their liberties just shows how susceptible the libertarians have been to liberal propaganda over time. Are there any real libertarians left at Reason?

    1. Paul, there are ample examples of both republican and democrat power grabbers. A republican dominated congress, democrat dominated senate, and the most authoritarian president in history ( who also is a democrat ) wrote, passed and signed the DAA.

      It might be useful to distinguish between republicans and conservatives; one of those is not like the other.

      1. Oh for god’s sake. I cut the grass, had one beer and came back and forgot to change my name back.

        btw y’all, the fish are biting.

        1. Now that’s living up to that moniker. 😉

      2. “It might be useful to distinguish between republicans and conservatives; one of those is not like the other.”

        I wish this was the case, but unfortunately conservatives have been just as eager to jump on board with the power grabs. The vote in Senate shows this: http://www.senate.gov/legislat…..vote=00218

        It’s not that the majority of Republican Senators aren’t conservatives, it just that they’re not libertarian conservatives.

        The No votes:
        Coburn (R-OK)(Kudos to Coburn for voting no on this, he’s also been calling for cuts to the Pentagon Budget)
        Harkin (D-IA)
        Lee (R-UT)
        Merkley (D-OR)
        Paul (R-KY)
        Sanders (I-VT)

    2. So the Patriot Act doesn’t exist? The TSA doesn’t molest grandmothers and little boys? There is no War on Drugs?

  20. If you haven’t done any wrong…well you know the rest.

    It is beyond belief that this country has come to this – except when you look at most of its history.

  21. “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue.” -Barry Goldwater-

    Been on top of my blog for a while

  22. It was declared Romney Derangement Syndrome.

    http://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon…..e/#respond

  23. Funny this is addressed to “conservatives.” Last I looked a “progressive” “liberal” or whatever he calls himself is seated in the White House and is in charge of indefinitely detaining enemy combatants without trial. Physician, heal thine own Komrades, then let’s talk about what conservatives ought to think.

  24. Sorry but conservative intrusions into private life rarely, if ever fuck your shit up (not to be too technical here) in your day-to-day life.

    Obamacare hasn’t even begun in earnest yet and look around you, you fucking True Libertarian dipshits! Why the Rothbardian fuck is Sandra Fluke a household name?

    Yet, aside from internet flame wars, please detail how the Patriot Act or similar CONservative (chuckles evilly) anti terror measures have affected your day-to-day personal life in one way.

    The Left towers over the Right in taking away your civil liberties. Towers! Only the willfully clueless cannot see this. See: reason.com for a plethora of examples.

    But then again, how will you jack yourselves off to sleep at night if not to your own sweet personal “I’m neither Team Red, nor Team Blue, I’m Team White Goo in my mouth” ditty?

  25. I agree with the sentiments expressed here except for the narrow minded notion that I sense in this article that it’s just Republicans overseeing the death of our rights. Obama might have issued a signing statement when signing the NDAA to give lip service to his naive base, but he still signed it. He’s also set the precedent that he can kill U.S. citizens without offering any due process. Both parties are happily overseeing the transformation of the U.S. into a fascist nation. Americans need to wake up and stop focusing on what politicians say, and more on what they actually do.

  26. Article 1, section 9 has many clauses on the subject of personal status, which have been violated: take clause 3, about writs of attainder. A monarch could wipe out a whole family the writ. When al-Awlaki, American citizen, was killed in Yemen by a drone strike ordered by the Executive (supposedly enabled by Congress), it wasn’t enough. His young son was later killed in another incident. This child was incapable at present of avenging his father’s murder, but the young American was also taken out (shades of Saddam’s sons or any Mafia hit aimed at wiping out a rival family). The rationale? Well, both killings were illegal under the Constitution. Most argue that they were on due process grounds. I would say that on this ground too they were both denied habeas corpus and treated as people with a “taint of the blood” – which is what “attainder” means.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.