The ACLU just announced that Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, the only Bush-era “enemy combatant” being held in military detention on U.S. soil, will be charged as a criminal terrorist and tried for his alleged crimes by the Obama Administration. This is a really big deal, both because it marks a major step by the new Administration to demonstrate that national security does not require us to abandon the Constitution, and also because it gives meaning to President Obama's previous decision to close Gitmo. If the Gitmo detainees were merely transferred from Cuba to U.S. soil, but were then detained here without trail, the President's promise to close Gitmo would have been meaningless.
One more Bush-era cesspool being drained. Plenty left.
No, you think. That can't be. Not after two years. Makes no sense.
But they're still there, a bedraggled colony of outcasts, consigned to the bowels of the Julia Tuttle Causeway — as a matter of public policy.
No, you think. That's impossible. Last winter, state officials promised they'd solve the legal conundrum and international embarrassment that forced 19 sex offenders to live like rats under the concrete support beams of a causeway bridge. The camp's still there. Only the Tuttle bridge population has since grown to 48 men, crammed together in a nether existence of the Kafka kind.
Officially, of course, the state of Florida would never compel ex-offenders to live in unsanitary conditions in the dank underbelly of a freeway bridge, in tents, shacks, cars and two rusting campers. Yet parole officers have made it clear to ex-sex offenders who've served their prison sentences that they have no other options.
City and county laws have created so many overlapping forbidden zones — 2,000 or 2,500 feet from schools, day cares, parks, playgrounds, school bus stops — that the middle of Biscayne Bay has become an ex-offender's only allowable address.
“They check us here every evening. We've got to be here or we go back to prison,” said M.C., 48, who was banished to the bridge after his release from prison two years ago.
For those following along at home, briefs were due today in the rearguard actions relating to allegations of domestic spying by the NSA. After the case was filed, Congress passed a peculiar statute that may have immunized the carriers for illegal wiretapping carried out at government order. The validity of that amendment is currently being litigated, and the supplemental briefs requested by Judge Walker in “In re National Security Agency Telecommunications Records Litigation, Mdl No. 1791” are now available online thanks to James S. Tyre: