Obama on Palin’s Casual Dismissal of Habeas Corpus

During her RNC speech, Gov. Palin made a snide (and plainly false) remark about Obama’s desire to maintain the writ of habeas corpus: “Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America — he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights?” Obama the law professor struck back recently, giving Palin a lesson on Constitutional Law. Maybe in Alaska they don’t teach that kinda stuff.

Now, let me say this,” Obama continued, “first of all, you don’t even get to read them their rights until you catch them. So, I don’t know what, they should spend more time trying to catch Osama bin Laden and we can worry about the next steps later. Hah!  I mean, seriously! These folks.

“Catch ‘em first!”

Obama said his position on this “has always been clear.  It has always been clear. If you’ve got a terrorist, take ‘em out. Take ‘em out. Anybody who was involved in 9/11 –- take ‘em out.”

But, the former constitutional law professor argued, “What I have also said is this: that when you suspend habeas corpus — which has been a principle, dating before even our country, it’s the foundation of Anglo-American law — which says, very simply, if the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, ‘Why was I grabbed?’ and say, ‘Maybe you’ve got the wrong person.’

“The reason you have that safeguard,” he said, “is because we don’t always have the right person. We don’t always catch the right person. We may think this is Mohammed the terrorist, it might be Mohammed the cab driver. You may think it’s Barack the bomb thrower, but it might be Barack the guy running for president.

“The reason that you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism, it’s because that’s who we are,” Obama said as the crowd rose to its feet, applauding. “That’s what we’re protecting. Don’t mock the Constitution! Don’t make fun of it! Don’t suggest that it’s un-American to abide by what the founding fathers set up! It’s worked pretty well for over 200 years!


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