crypto and public policy

Due Process = Protecting the Innocent

Filed under: General December 20, 2004 @ 2:04 pm

We are “at war,” whether we think we should be or not. A number of Americans are making decisions on that basis: that we are at war. And it is in times of war that we must be most – not least – careful about protecting civil liberties and due process, because it is in times of war that we are most vulnerable to abuses in the name of supposedly unique circumstances.

So it’s important to remember that due process – the guarantees that the accused will have the right to a fair hearing, to a speedy trial, to face their accusers, etc… – is meant to protect the innocent. For the past 3 years, we have held hundreds of individuals prisoner in Guantanamo Bay. None ever had a fair hearing, none was given any right to even try to prove their innocence.

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that this situation was unacceptable. As a result, we’re finding out that some people really were held for years without cause. This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, no one’s perfect, including our military and law enforcement. We all make mistakes.

But that’s what due process is about: making room for mistakes and making sure innocent people don’t pay for these mistakes. Due process protects the innocent. If we don’t take basic measures to protect innocent people, then what, exactly, are we doing?

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