L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 144, October 22, 2001
I Hear America Dying
by John Hoffman
Special to TLE
"We're recessing early for lunch; be back at 1 PM." The gavel banged against its pad. "You two," he growled, glaring at the attorneys before him, "in my chambers, NOW."
Defense, prosecution and judge all stood in concert with the bailiff's announcement of "all rise". The man in black robes stormed off the bench and through his chamber door and both lawyer and agent had to scramble to follow. The two men watched the Hon. George P. Hawkins stomp around his desk, but the enraged justice didn't take the time to sit on his leather chair before exploding. "In my entire life -- ! Mr. French! Explain to me, RIGHT NOW, why Mr Williams hasn't been allowed to see his attorney!" Judge Hawkins' face mirrored that of a lion, eyes boring holes towards the Homeland Defense agent.
Howard cooly ignored the twin lances of anger. "Because there's been no reason to do so, your Honor", he calmly replied. "Under the tems of the USA Act, we are holding Mr. Williams on suspicion of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. We will continue to hold him until we have been satisfied he is not involved in the conspiracy."
"Your Honor," Barney broke in, "Mr. Williams has been held incommunicado for three months now. I haven't been able to see him. They won't let his wife see him. I'm not sure he's even still alive, that's why I filed the writ of Habeas Corpus -- "
"Yes, yes, Mr. Fritz, I see your position." The judge swiveled back to Howard. "I fail to see yours, however. The USA Act only applies to the detention of non-citizens."
Howard French returned the Federal court justice's stare. "Mr. Williams renounced his citizenship when he joined the Reactors, your Honor. Therefore we can hold him indefinitely."
"Herb's no Reactor!" Barney Fritz looked about to pop. "I've been his attorney for twelve years and his friend for twice that! I KNOW him. He's no libertarian nut! I don't know who could've given you such an idea, but I dare you to prove it. And prove he renounced his citizenship, too! You can't have any proof, he'd never consider doing anything like that!"
"I think that's a good point," said Judge Hawkins, finally seating himself and reaching for a stack of paper. He looked down and began jotting. "I am hereby ordering you to make Mr. Williams available to his attorney." The Judge stopped writing and looked the agent in his eyes. "You will also present proof to this court within three days that Mr. Williams has renounced his citizenship, or I shall rule that he must be treated as a citizen of the United States, and that you will either release him or bring an indictment against him. This is NOT Nazi Germany, and we have rules about unlawful imprisonment." Barney smiled and slumped in exhausted relief. "I also foresee a large civil suit heading your way, Mr. French," finished the Judge, smugly.
The Homeland Security agent sighed emotionlessly, reaching inside his jacket with a gloved hand. "I'm sorry you feel that way, your Honor. I have here," he said, holding out a paper, "an injunction from the 11th Circuit, allowing us to hold Mr. Williams incommunicado while they decide on the matter." Howard kited the injunction onto the desk, in front of the constipated-looking judge, and turned to his side, adjusting jacket and tie. "The hearing is scheduled for June, but you know how the Circuit courts always postpone, and postpone... Oh, yes -- there is a Mr. Lindquist of the JIRC who would like to have a little chat with you. Something about ethics violations -- oh, I don't quite remember."
Mr. French sauntered towards the door, seemingly oblivious to the reactions he'd just generated in the men behind him. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to lunch. Oh -- Mr. Fritz?" Howard looked back over his left shoulder. "I'm afraid you've been implicated in the Reactor investigation as well. We'll have to take you in for questioning. I have some men waiting to escort you once you're done here. Ta-ta," he waved backwards, walking out.