Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Non-American had rights, court finds

A US court has ruled that a Mexican teenager who was shot dead, in Mexico, by a US Border Patrol agent had the same rights as an American-born human being, reports the Associated Press:
U.S. District Judge David Briones found in 2011 that the family could not sue because the shooting's effects were "felt in Mexico." But the appeals court said that "territorial approach" would allow agents to establish "zones of lawlessness."

It "would establish a perverse rule that would treat differently two individuals subject to the same conduct merely because one managed to cross into our territory," the appeals court ruling says.


Extending that right to people injured across the border by U.S. agents standing on U.S. soil, would inform the officials that they are not allowed to arbitrarily inflict harm . . . ."
I like this ruling almost as much as I like the AP's headline, "Court: Teen in Mexico shot by US agent had rights." Given the fetishiziation of the "founding fathers," it's sort of amazing that this ruling would be controversial, particularly among the "patriot" set," given that the likes of Thomas Jefferson wrote -- if didn't actually believe -- that all human beings are endowed with certain inalienable rights by "their Creator," not by governments which grant said rights based on which side of an arbitrary political border one's mother gave birth.

More interesting, though, is how the court picked up on the fact that not acknowledging that Mexicans have rights would allow US border agents to act with impunity, knowing that their actions against a certain group of people -- those on that side of a line on a map -- could never be challenged in a court of law. That would be a real problem, wouldn't it? Of course, we need not imagine what would happen if that were the case; we need only look to Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan or Yemen to see what happens with Americans with weapons are given license to do whatever they please without consequence (for them). If they're far enough away, not even American citizens have rights; the family of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen killed by US bombs in Yemen, doesn't even have standing to challenge his killing. He was unilaterally declared a threat by the executive branch and there's nothing anyone can do about it now.

"But international law!" shouts some pipsqueak in the bleachers. Well, listen here, nerd: International law is for losers, not the imperial powers which draft and enforce it. It's for war criminals in Africa, not the war criminals in Europe and America. The only law that one needs to know is that if the United States does something, that means it's legal. How many divisions does the president of Amnesty International got?

While Mexicans along the US border may have just been granted rights -- let's wait to see how the appeal turns out before celebrating -- the rest of world is one big zone of lawlessness for those killing on behalf of the US government.

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