Elian and Federal Force

The Sound-Byte

The White House had the chutzpah to justify the Federal raid to seize Elian as an application of the rule of law. There is nothing of the LAW in Elian's seizure. However, there is a lot about kingly RULE of FORCE.

The Details

The White House had the chutzpah to justify the Federal raid to seize Elian Gonzalez as an application of the rule of law. That phrase got a lot of play when Mr. Clinton was impeached.

Such brazen spin must be admired for its audacity. Removing Elian from his home in Miami was not about the rule of law. The warrant the Federal agents used was obviously invalid. Elian had a court order that allowed him to remain in Miami until his scheduled asylum hearing. He was not "illegal." Everyone knew where he was. He was not "concealed."

There is nothing of the LAW in Elian's seizure. However, there is a lot about RULE. Yes, the Clinton Administration had been ASKING to return the boy to Cuba for months. But when thwarted by the laws of the United States and the due process of the courts, the Administration resorted to the Rule of FORCE. Clinton Rules. Overwhelming force in the night. Fait accompli. Nobody has the power to resist the wishes of the Administration. That is the message from Miami.

This was also the message from Waco. The original warrant being served at the Branch Davidian community was later shown to be equally bogus. Overwhelming force was unnecessarily used in the early morning hours. In retrospect it is clear that the main point of the initial raid at Waco was to send a message -- that the Federal government rules. The media were invited. The cameras were rolling. This was not about law enforcement: this was about publicizing the power of the Federal government.

This is not the way our government was supposed to work. The Bill of rights guarantees anyone accused of a crime a trial in the ...State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed... Clearly the intent of the Constitution is that laws should be enforced at the local level. In recent years, there has been erosion of local law enforcement and a movement toward Federal enforcement. As cases like Elian Gonzalez and Waco indicate, the Federal government too often is heavy handed and there are no effective checks and balances on this use of Federal force.

But things could get worse. Congress is debating the so-called Juvenile Crime bill, which would further empower the Federal government with additional resources to overpower and displace local law enforcement. It is time to tell our elected representatives in Washington that we have had enough of Federal agents circumventing our local courts and law enforcement. It is time to stop the Juvenile Crime bill now being considered by Congress. It may be too late to help Elian. It is certainly too late to help the residents of Mount Carmel. But if the voters speak loudly enough, it may not be too late for our own neighborhoods. If we don't reverse the trend, Elian's view of the rule of law could be YOUR family's view as well.

Copyright © 1999 Daniel Weyrich.

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Last updated: May 12, 2000; Version: 1.2