Imagine that you are a US citizen living or traveling overseas, and find yourself in a place of possible danger. The US government, as part of its “services” to US citizens abroad, offers to charter a plane to evacuate US citizens and repatriate them to the US, and you agree to pay a pro-rated share of the cost of the flight back to a US gateway airport, from which you are told you will be free to proceed to your home or to wherever else you choose to go.
But the flight, which was scheduled to take you to San Francisco International Airport, is diverted first to Ontario [CA] Airport and then to an Air Force Reserve Base in the Mojave Desert, where passengers are confined in a cordoned-off section of the base. When one of you tries to leave, they are detained by the authorities.
This is what has happened to 195 US citizens “evacuated” from Wuhan, China.
Have they been “rescued” by their government? Or have they been kidnapped?
Questions are already being raised about this and other incidents of individual and mass “quarantines”. Some have questioned the medical argument for quarantine orders, while others have suggested that the current panic reflects ethnic and national bigotry.
Our particular concern is — as it has been for many years, and as it has been for other legal experts who have criticized the Federal quarantine regulations — with the legal basis and procedures for restricting the right to freedom of movement, extrajudicially, on ostensibly medical grounds, rather than relying on existing legal mechanisms for the issuance by judges of temporary restraining orders or injunctions restricting individuals’ movements.
Unfortunately, US authorities, especially the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have tried to avoid acknowledging the scope of the authority they claim, or giving either the public or specifically affected individuals clear notice of their rights. Instead, as in other recent incidents of quarantine orders, they have tried to avoid any judicial review of their actions by persuading individuals to waive their rights, just as police avoid judicial review of other types of detentions, searches, and interrogations by intimidating members of the public into giving “consent”.
KTLA television reports that “None of the passengers showed signs of the illness after being evacuated from the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. However, they agreed to stay voluntarily, according to Dr. Chris Braden of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”