Democrats & Liberals Archives

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Throughout its history the U.S. has followed a fundamental rule of law: You’re innocent until proven guilty. This concept went down the drain after 9/11. We were so worried, so traumatized, so afraid that we became suspicious of everybody. We switched to: Your guilty until proven innocent.

This shows up in many ways, but none so obviously hurtful to us and our economy as our strict travel rules. I'm not talking so much about the long waits and body-and-luggage inspections at airports, which are bad enough. As a nation we decided to suffer these indignities; supposedly they are keeping us safe. I'm talking about how we treat foreigners who want to visit the U.S.

There was a time when U.S. was the favorite destination from all sorts of countries around the world. We were a tourist mecca. Today? Eric Lucas tells us what's happening:

Overseas arrivals to the U.S. have declined 11% this decade, to 23 million in 2007 from 26 million in 2000. Travel is the world's largest industry, currently worth $5 trillion, and it is growing 6% a year. It employs almost a quarter of a billion people. And yet the U.S. is missing out on this wonderful human commerce.

Why is this happenng?

Because we treat foreigners as criminals until proved otherwise.

This starts at U.S. consulates in other countries. You need to apply, pay a nonrefundable $100 per peron and sit through an interview before you are considered. Many are turned down and no reason is given. The author describes a gentleman who paid $500 for his family of 5. When he was turned down he took his family to Europe.

We used to enjoy foreign tourists; now we are suspicious of anyone that looks different. We used to have a booming tourist industry; now we keep tourists away. We used to be an open society; now we're closed. Things are so bad the USA has become unrecognizable.

I yearn for the day when we get back to one of the great principles of America: Your innocent until you are proven guilty.

Posted by Paul Siegel at February 19, 2008 2:55 PM
Comment #245734


This did *NOT* start with 9/11. The RICO statues made a mockery of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ by seizing the assets of drug suspects, and later suspected child molestors, so that they could not use that money to mount a constitutionally guaranteed defense. That we now apply these same rules to ‘suspected terrorists’, read: those that don’t look like us, is despicible, but it is not entirely out of the blue or unprecidented, unfortunately.

Posted by: Rhinehold at February 19, 2008 3:43 PM
Comment #245740

Paul, Rhinehold,

Guilty until proven innocent did not start with 9/11 or RICO.

It started with a governmental agency that needs no court order, no search warrant, and does not need to advise you of your Miranda rights.

They can kick down your door, take you furniture and electronics, jewelry, cars, valuables, your house…and throw you out in the street on a whim, while freezing your bank accounts and credit cards, leaving you destitute. And, no, you don’t have any recourse.

You are guilty until proven innocent…which means you are guilty. Period. And it will happen to you again…soon.

Who is this “super-governmental” agency that is above and beyond the law…and always has been?

The I.R.S.

Posted by: Jim T at February 19, 2008 4:34 PM
Comment #245749

Jim T,

I find it interesting that any other debtor that a person has can only seek a garnishment of a person’s wages up to 10% of the gross amount.

However, the IRS can take all but 10% of your wages in order to resolve any debt you have against the government.

Posted by: Rhinehold at February 19, 2008 5:15 PM
Comment #245755

I suspect that the writers above will be among the first to complain about government failure if, and when, another terrorist attack occurs. Numerous attempts against us which have been revealed demand our caution and vigilance. How many interrupted planned attacks don’t we know about for national security reasons? I don’t know, and don’t need to know. Will I sleep safer with Obama or Hillary in the WH. Doubtful, unless they keep up the same necessary procedures to protect us against sworn enemies. Loosing some tourist dollars pales in comparison to the losses we experienced on 9/11, both in human lives and financially. Has it ever occurred to the writers above that perhaps foreigners are staying away for fear they will be in the middle of the next attack? Fear of harm has kept me away from visiting Israel and other war torn areas in the world.

Posted by: Jim M at February 19, 2008 6:15 PM
Comment #245772


We Americans can live in fear of the “next” terrorist attack, and let the terrorists win,….
Or, we can go on with our lives, perhaps a bit more mindful of our surroundings.

Whether you get killed by a terrorist in Israel, or get hit by a bus because you’re not paying enough attention in your home town, you’re still just as dead.
Unfortunately for you, if you choose to cower here at home do to “fear of harm”, you don’t get the truly fulfilling experience of world travel.

Posted by: Rocky at February 19, 2008 9:08 PM
Comment #245794

Rocky well said. Seems to me that Jim M has allowed the terrorist to win already. Afterall that is exactly what they want -for us to be living in fear of them.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 20, 2008 12:10 AM
Comment #245797

Jim T is this before or after a determination by a court? When I had a run in with them several years ago they sent me a letter saying I could pay or go to court. I chose court and after a few months they asked for some documents , I provided them, they said good enough and that was that. Did you have a personel expeirence as you have described or are you just spreading rumours?

Posted by: j2t2 at February 20, 2008 12:19 AM
Comment #245822

What a typical Liberal revisionist view of history. So all those US citizens of Japanese descent were guility of what? FDR,that great icon of the Liberal world tossed them into camps for no other reason than they were born what they were. I assume those were the good old days you yearn for.
GWB may have refined evil,but he most certainly didn’t invent it.

Posted by: t-bone at February 20, 2008 5:53 AM
Comment #245851

Rocky and J2T2, you misunderstand. In the past few years I have spent time in Ireland, London, Paris, Mexico, Portugal and Spain. Only a fool never experiences fear and a healthy respect for terrorist activity in some parts of the world is wise. Check with our state department and you’ll quickly understand the peril of visiting certain parts of our world. There are parts of some cities in the U.S. that only a fool would enter. Your bravado is misplaced and your comparison of death by terrorist or by bus is just silly. The bus hasn’t proclaimed it’s desire or intention to kill me.

Posted by: Jim M at February 20, 2008 12:13 PM
Comment #245864


“Your bravado is misplaced and your comparison of death by terrorist or by bus is just silly. The bus hasn’t proclaimed it’s desire or intention to kill me.”

It’s not about comparing. Dead is dead.

Though I haven’t been to Ireland, I have friends that have been there. There was a time in the not so distant past that parts of Ireland were just as dangerous as Israel.
I have, however, spent time in Jakarta and in parts of the Philippines.
All one needs is a healthy respect for one’s surroundings and to act like a traveler, not a tourist.

Oh, and don’t make it too obvious that you’re an American.

Posted by: Rocky at February 20, 2008 1:45 PM
Comment #245873

Sorry Rocky, nice try at spinning but “dead is dead” is very weak. Do you fear the bus? Probably not. Do you fear the terrorist? If not, why not? We all have rational and irrational fears if we’re human. Fear of terrorism that has already committed an act war on our citizens, and vowed more, is very rational. Please tell me how you and I will come together under the banner of Obama, when we can’t even agree on this. It’s obvious to me Rocky, that you will disagree with anything I say because you’re a liberal and I am a conservative and there isn’t going to be any “reaching out” or “let’s play nice” simply because Obama is elected. You are not prepared to practice what Obama preaches. I don’t agree with the message Obama preaches. When I see an olive branch in your hand I will believe that you actually intend to live by Obama’s oratory. Many on this blog are critical of Christians for not being Christ-like. Perhaps more of you should be more Obama-like. Perhaps then, we would believe that it’s not just politics as usual with a more skilled messenger.

Posted by: Jim M at February 20, 2008 4:20 PM
Comment #245874

The money is supposed to weed out possible immigrants, or people who will not want to leave once they get here. I guess WDW must be almost out of business, according to your figures. I wonder if they still get an exception for their “foregin student” employees. It’s a good thing they have their overseas aprks to make money.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 20, 2008 4:21 PM
Comment #245891

Paul, your entire article is falsely premised. America has aspired in rhetoric to innocent until proven guilty, but, as the Law of the Southern States evidenced prior to the 1970’s, and the McCarthy Red Scare era, and the internment of Japanese Americans and confiscation of all their property and holdings to never be returned at the outset of WWII will attest, AMERICA has a long historical record of guilty until proven innocent.

It is important to accept reality when going ballistically political. Or, one’s political ballistics will fail to appeal to a credible audience. What happened after 9/11 is not all that dissimilar from the Japanese-American concentration camps we created out of fear. It is appalling what was done, but such appalling actions have occurred under both Democratic and Republican administrations and for centuries.

Let’s address the problem, but, let’s do it with a sound footing in fact and historical accuracy as a united people, not as political partisan hacks and spinsters.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 20, 2008 6:28 PM
Comment #245902

Jim M.

“It’s obvious to me Rocky, that you will disagree with anything I say because you’re a liberal and I am a conservative and there isn’t going to be any “reaching out” or “let’s play nice” simply because Obama is elected. You are not prepared to practice what Obama preaches.”

If you had read some of my other posts in the past you would already know I support McCain, therefore I don’t have a clue what you’re trying to say.

“Sorry Rocky, nice try at spinning but “dead is dead” is very weak. Do you fear the bus? Probably not. Do you fear the terrorist? If not, why not?”

Spinning? Please, you’re going to have to better than that.
I feel no need to fear the bus just as I don’t feel the need to fear the terrorist.
Death is inevitable. I don’t fear death whether it comes from old age, the bus or the terrorist.
Death is a part of life.
We begin dying the day we’re born, and there isn’t much you or I can do to stop it, so why fear it?
I live my life knowing full well that I am going to die some day, and I refuse to live my life in fear of terrorism.
Does this mean I don’t pay attention to my surroundings?
Absolutely not, but my life has changed little since Sept. 11th, other than the changes forced upon me by the TSA.

Posted by: Rocky at February 20, 2008 7:59 PM
Comment #246358

I don’t really see a legitimate connection between innocent until proven guilty and our controlling our boarders. I’m also not connecting it very strongly to the tourism issue.

I’m seeing all sorts of reasons for tourism being down. Some say its the US Image. Maybe when Left Wing US publications stop preaching to the world they should hate us, Tourism will pick up a little bit?

Possibly the left should step up to the plate and acknowledge that in the process of tearing down all they disagree with in the Bush administration they inadvertently damaged our tourism industry? That rejoicing in “the world hates us” and preaching to the world that they should hate us….they had success in shaping global opinon. Now that the world is in sync with the US left wing and ‘hating’ us…they don’t want to visit us.

It does indeed seem to be mostly an image thing and not a matter of how long the lines are at the airport.

Perhaps the easiest way to solve this would be go get a democratic party president in office. Then the left wing rags can start publishing that the world loves us again, the world will “love” us again and tourism will pick up?

Posted by: Stephen at February 25, 2008 3:58 AM
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