Are you familiar with the concept of black sites? How about black ops? You’ve more likely heard of the second term. Black ops are government operations which occur “off the books,” unofficially and with deniability (wouldn’t want to kill someone’s political career for a little illegal activity, would we?).
Black sites are a similar idea in that they are the site of activity which a government cannot do within it’s own territory due to legal restrictions. You know the kind of legal restrictions that I’m talking about. Pesky things like the Constitution.
Unfortunately, it’s been revealed that the U.S. government has been operating black site prison locations for some time. We’re not talking about sites like Guatanamo Bay, Cuba where the U.S. military has been imprisoning and interrogating terrorists and those accused of terrorism in ways that would not be allowed inside the 50 states. The black site prisons are U.S. ships taken into international waters (where U.S. law doesn’t apply). Prisoners taken to these prisons are treated in horrible ways. And, yes, this should concern you. Matt Agorist gives us details about the prisons:
In their increasing effort to prove they are needed to stop the flow of drugs, the Coast Guard has continued to go further and further out into these international waters. When they capture these boats, the people on the boats—who are often indentured servants to drug lords trying to feed their families—are brought aboard these floating prisons and shackled to the deck outside, in the elements.
However, they aren’t shackled to the deck of a ship for a few hours or even a few days. These torturous waits can last for weeks or months, according to the Times.
The Coast Guard claims they can keep these folks in such torturous conditions because they aren’t under arrest until they get back to the United States. In the NY Times article, Seth Freed Wessler reported this story and covered the case of one person who happened to endure time on one of these floating prisons.
Now, think about the implications of what is going on. If you and your family take a trip to, say, Columbia just for vacation and the government decides they don’t like that you’ve considered buying real estate in that country because it may allow you to begin the residency process for moving to that country, then the Feds simply find a way to stop you from entering U.S. territory, and they detain you indefinitely. Because, hey, you’re not under arrest until you are actually within U.S. territory.
The potential for abuse is enormous, and the whole situation would be humorously absurd if it weren’t so horrible (absurd because, as a U.S. citizen, you are taxed on economic activities which you conduct outside the U.S., but the Coast Guard says that can only charge you for breaking U.S. laws once you are inside the U.S. So, do the laws only apply in the U.S., or do they apply worldwide?).
This abuse of Federal power has to stop. No matter what your position on the drug war, U.S. military personal (yes, in case you didn’t realize it, the Coast Guard is considered a branch of the military) need to be held to U.S. laws. The fact that they are ignoring due process sets a dangerous example.