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Ashcroft on FOX
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John Ashcroft was on FOX News Sunday this morning, and he almost managed to sound halfway reasonable. I generally tend to side with the less paranoid on the Patriot Act. I haven't heard any particular aspect of the act that sounds nefarious enough to spurn it.

What I was disturbed by was his response to the case of Jose Padilla, the American citizen detained for his suspected involvement in building and using a dirty bomb.

The thing is, he hasn't been charged with anything. He hasn't been given any of the due process that are fundamental to our society.

Brit Hume asked Ashcroft about Padilla's case, and Ashcroft explained it away as Padilla being a warrior, being held as an enemy combatant. Now, I realize with terrorism we're in a gray zone where the old state-based view of war doesn't apply anymore, but Hume's follow-up question basically summed it up:

What would stop the Federal Government from detaining me without charge or due process, on the grounds that I'm an "enemy combatant"?

Ashcroft pranced all around that one, mumbling something incoherent about habeus corpus. Fact is, he doesn't have a good answer. John Walker Lindh, I can understand. He was fighting alongside Taliban fighters on a very clear battlefied in Afghanistan. That was more clearly war.

But advocates for this kind of behavior want to say, "Well, the battlefields are everywhere now. The battlefields are our cities and neighborhoods."

Um, I'm still not willing to justify the detention of American citizens on the basis of such logic.

Padilla needs to be charged with something, and he needs a hearing (closed if necessary for security reasons), and he needs access to a lawyer.

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