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NDAA: Pre-emptive prosecution coming to a town near you

February 20, 2013
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Source: Al Jazeera

In the US, due process - one of the defining features of a democratic judicial process - continues to be badly bludgeoned: Obama fights tooth and nail to push through NDAA, which would allow indefinite detention of US citizens, and the definition of terrorism has expanded its unwieldy scope, casting a widening net that ensures more and more people are captured in its snare. 

The US has pursued "domestic terrorism" by practicing pre-emptive prosecution, that is, going after individuals who have committed no crime but are alleged to possess an ideology that might dispose them to commit acts of "terrorism". Maintaining that it can -and should - be in the business of divining intent, the government decimates crucial elements of the US justice system. 

Thus, in cases where terrorism is charged, prosecutors need not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, only the defendant's potential for committing a crime need be established in order to convict. 

Consider the case of Tareq Abufayyad, a young Palestinian man and recent college graduate who was detained at San Francisco International Airport when he was on his way to unite with his family, all of them naturalised citizens of the US. Tareq was deemed inadmissible merely on the grounds that he had the potential to become a Hamas-operative. 

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