EPC Commissioners Approve Civil Liberties Resolution

Document Protects County From Abuse Of Federal Authority

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - We've heard of situations in which someone is arrested as a terrorist or enemy combatant, taken to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, held for years with little or no evidence, and is cut off from family and even an attorney.

Now, El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Litleton wants to ensure that can't happen here.

During the board of commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Littleton presented a resolution in which she intends to keep the federal government from overstepping its authority when enforcing terrorism law -- specifically as it relates to habeas corpus, the right to due process under the law.

Littleton's concerned that the defense bill recently passed by Congress contains a provision that would allow the federal government to arrest and detain an American citizen indefinitely in wartime, without due process.

Her biggest concern is that anyone guilty of committing a so-called "belligerent act" against the United States could be detained--but the bill doesn't define what a belligerent act is.

"What if they redefine what a terrorist is?" Littleton asked. "Is it going to be those of us who bear arms, or have extra food supplies, or who are peacefully protesting? What is that going to be? So this is really proactive."

Littleton received standing applause from some of the 30 people in attendance. Six people spoke to commissioners in support of the resolution, which the board passed unanimously.

The resolution also has the support of Sheriff Terry Maketa. It authorizes him to protect and defend the rights of county residents if there's ever a conflict with the federal government.

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