After Err Inhuman, This Vote Supine

So now a thoroughly and unabashedly uninformed Congress has given its seal of approval to the White House's terror detainee plan with the passage of a federal law that begins to harden into legal doctrine most of what President Bush has sought all along in the legal war on terrorism. The so-called GOP "compromise" that was much ballyhooed last week turns out to be a fraud. So was all the talk about the legislators taking their time this time to understand the complex issues involved and to give us a long-term solution to this problem. They gave us a "solution" all right. It's just the wrong solution.

The new law means there will be a limited-- much, much more limited-- role for the courts so that both the White House and Congress can better avoid those embarrassing Supreme Court reversals that have become so common in this legal war on terror. There will be a whole new class of residents who can be thrown in jail by the President and have to stay there indefinitely without ever having to face charges or get a trial. There will be tons of intentionally-created "wiggle room" left in the defintions of things to allow our spies to, let's face it, torture terror detainees (even if they are, like the Canadian Maher Arar, innocent). Evidence that would never see the light of day in an American court can and will be used against detainees-- if somehow they are able to see and face any evidence at all.

In short, things will go on as they have for the past five miserable years in this epic struggle between the branches for balance in a time of terror. That is to say, the White House has all the power and the other two branches wallow in submissiveness. For federal judges, at least they will be able to tell their grandchildren that they didn't have much choice in the matter. But what slimy excuse are our national legislators going to use? They could have made a difference, could have given us both a strong terror detainee bill and a fair one, and instead they punted, as they usually do, so that they can cut crisper campaign commercials. It is beyond sad that the Congress could not muster up the courage to stand up for what America has stood for to the rest of the world for nearly a century. It is beyond sad that this is the best we can do when the stakes are so high.

Just read how well my friend Dahlia Lithwick says it in her current online offering for slate.com: "For the five years since 9/11, we have been in the dark in this country. This president has held detainees in secret prisons and had them secretly tortured using secret legal justifications. Those held in secret at Guantanamo Bay include innocent men, as do those who have been secretly shipped off to foreign countries and brutally tortured there. That was a shame on this president. But passage of the new detainee legislation will be a different sort of watershed. Now we are affirmatively asking to be left in the dark. Instead of torture we were unaware of, we are sanctioning torture we'll never hear about. Instead of detainees we didn't care about, we are authorizing detentions we'll never know about. Instead of being misled by the president, we will be blind and powerless by our own choice. And that is a shame on us all."

By Andrew Cohen |  September 29, 2006; 7:00 AM ET
Previous: This Time, Congress Has No Excuse | Next: The Ball is Now in the Supremes' Court

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Well, I'm italian, here in the Us since january 2001, I have to admit I changed my very pro-american views into first disbilief (how can this country disavow its core values that a lot in the world admired so much and made the american system so appealing to outsiders) and then sadness and anger. I can assure you in the foreign academic community the feeling is exactly the same. People start to think that maybe in the years leading to fascism in Italy and nazism in Germany the populace felt the same but the drift at the end lead to what it lead. How long before an "unethical president" decides that his political foes are to be considered "terrorists" and treated according to this new bill (aka put in jail indefinitely and maybe interrogated, or his family members....), I cannot believe the american people don't see the slippery slope they are ent.
This president and congress are betraying not only the american people but all the people in the world that have always seen America as a role model, you can already see this if you travel outside the US, americans are not welcome anymore in a lot of places. As for me and my family? We are moving to Canada, I don't want my kids to be americans anymore.
sincerely, Alessandro

Posted by: Alessandro Biglioli | September 29, 2006 07:34 AM

I was afraid that I would wake up this sad friday to read this, a part of me had some hope last night that the senate would stop this. I am deeply ashamed...

Posted by: Luis | September 29, 2006 07:41 AM

To our Italian friend, thank you for your country's support in the war on terror.

He should be reminded that his country would be part of Germany right now if we let every prisoner of war we captured in WWII sue the United States and our soldiers.

Also, the Geneva Conventions were written SPECIFICALLY to exclude terrorists. The point of "gentlemanly" conduct between nations at war is to deter people from using terrorist tactics. If terrorists are now covered under the Geneva conventions, then there is no deterrent.

This law also DOES NOT APPLY TO AMERICANS or prisoners of war. It applies to enemy combatants - who are afforded NO protections in the Geneva Conventions (why do you think the term is even used in the convention if there is no distinction?). The congress just went above and beyond by actually granting terrorists judicial review in the DC Appeals Court.

Spies and sabetours used to be shot on site. Now they can actually file a petition to have their designation reviewed. How is that bad?

Finally, we are not condoning torture and this bill does not sanction torture. The hysteria results from a 3rd grade reading of the constitution and foreign law. If you were serious about your criticisms, you would go home to Italy.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 08:08 AM

In response to the most recent poster who said (in all caps no less) this does not apply to American citizens, read the damned bill. It gives power to the president to declare American citizens "enemy combatants" even if they have never left the country. In essence, he could say of the poster Lame, "Somethin' about this guy I don't like," whisk him off the Alcatraz of the Rockies, lock him up and say to the courts, "Mind your own business."

That Congress would lambaste the executives at HP at showboat hearings while passing this vile legislation that undoes everything the Anglo-Saxon/Norman people began with the passage of Magna Carta just shows that we now live in a time of unparalleled fear and trembling.

Posted by: Jack | September 29, 2006 08:17 AM

Lame, are you suggesting that the US has not had the "tools" necessary to fight the war on terror? I'm upset that the US would even leave the door open for the perception that we've just allowed torture, or that we've created a second class. Bush says "Trust me." That's fine, it is entirely possible and I'll even grant him probable that he doesn't think that the US is torturing. But there are a lot of news stories out there suggesting otherwise. Forget democrats and leakers aiding the enemy, the perception that this bill has created is going to hurt far worse in the long run than any whistleblower!

Posted by: Not lame | September 29, 2006 08:31 AM

Dear Mr. Lame,

You need to re-read the legislation that has been passed.

NOWHERE is it said that an "enemy combatant" cannot be a citizen of the United States.

Remember John Walker Lindh in Afghanistan?

Under this new legislation is he afforded full protections of American citizenship or is he an enemy combatant? However recalcitrant Lindh may be, if his rights as a citizen of the U.S. can be abrogated then so can yours and so can mine.

So keeping Lindh in mine, you must know that this law DOES APPLY to Americans.

After the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788, a set of universal egalitarian values based in natural rights were institutionally codified but only, in practice, applied to white males. Failure to universally apply these values resulted in the Civil War. Selectively applying the values inherent to the U.S. system of government is a slippery slope...especially in a war in which the "enemy" cannot even be defined.

Becoming that which you fight is an inherent danger to this democracy at war.

Posted by: Mark | September 29, 2006 08:57 AM

At last, maybe a reasonable discussion. I agree with about 90% of what Lame says, I do have some concern with how this new law plays out with regard to citizens, but how do you deal with soldiers in the enemy's army who also are citizens? Particularly in the middle of the war. Not an easy question.
Mr. Biglioli, sorry to see you go, but if I need to commit national suicide in order to win your approval.... see Ya....

Posted by: Lane | September 29, 2006 09:12 AM

I'm with Alessandro's slippery slope argument. We might be reminded that conservatives claim to be against any kind of voluntary euthanasia just for this reason: the "first they came for..." argument that places us on a slippery slope to killing others not strong enough to resist. Here, we have the slippery slope to fascism.

This govenment is giving away those very freedoms that Bush claims the terrorists hate us for.

Posted by: Bart | September 29, 2006 09:15 AM

Where were Lindh and Moussoui tried and convicted?

In federal court, no less.

The legislation specifically applies to terrorists and their sponsors captured overseas.

The huffing and puffing about all this is spectacular. I suppose that our soldiers should be required to Mirandize those captured.

The perception that America is torturing people is based on Abu Ghraib, which was a tragedy and did not represent the fine men and women in our military, and (despite the conspiracy mongers) did not come down from on high at the Pentagon.

But when Democrats start throwing around words like "torture" at every instance conduct they find offensive, it betrays the country and actually diminishes people who have actually suffered torture (beheadings, quarterings, being electrocuted, burned, raped, etc.). The perception of America is being trashed by Democrats trying to take down Bush weilding unfounded accusations.

You don't think the enemy hears this and then uses it in their propaganda? Why on earth would bin Laden be talking about "My Pet Goat" if he wasn't getting his cues from Michael Moore.

They are now condemning this country for our infidel global warming! Get a clue people.

Leftists think the death penalty is also torture. Your definition of torture is too vague and too sentimental. Hanging someone upside down and splashing water on their face is not torture. If it is, then Ted Kennedy should be charged for war crimes for leaving that woman to die in his car at the bottom of a river.

Constitutional rights are for AMERICANS. That's why it is the US Constitution. I don't go into Italy and demand being able to carry a gun around because our constitution applies to everyone.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 09:15 AM

Should we abandon what used to be the US for a better country?

I'm so sad, ashamed, and embarrassed. The only hope we have is to get the Dems in control on one/both houses to retract this stupid, insulting bill. Or, wait until 2008 if we can, and the next, (has to be better) president can help a change.

Its so sad and pathetic.

Vote these morons out of office ASAP, please.

Posted by: Where do we go? | September 29, 2006 09:29 AM

Mr. Lame,

You still haven't produced a legal definition of "enemy combatant" that excludeds U.S. citizens - neither does this recent legislation.

Until Congress does so, the door to American liberties is still wide open.

Posted by: Mark | September 29, 2006 09:29 AM

Mr. Lame will be among the first to be invited to King George's coronation. He sounds like a true fascist. If he thinks that Donald Rumsfeld and his minions are not torturing people, he is living on Mars.

Posted by: Richard | September 29, 2006 09:52 AM

Richard, please give me the evidence you have that Rumsfeld is sitting behind his desk just torturing people.

Show me the torture prisons and camps we are running.

As for the actual law, let's take a look:

HR 6066.

Section 948b(a) on military tribunals, provides:

"(a) Purpose- This chapter establishes procedures governing the use of military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants engaged in hostilities against the United States for violations of the law of war and other offenses triable by military commission."


Section 948a(3) on aliens, provides:

"(3) ALIEN- The term `alien' means a person who is not a citizen of the United States."

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 10:02 AM

This is the worst piece of law ever written in this country. Pinochet would be proud. This makes it so every american is now vulnerable to the whims and so called definitions of what a terrorist is. To speak out against the war, the GOP has said that "You are coddling to terrorists" Under this new law, that makes anyone who speaks their mind a terrorist. So, then they can now legally take that person, family (because their son is a terrorist and they have been feeding him) throw them into a jail cell forever without anyone knowing where they are, torture them. Don't you understand Lame, they could consider you to be a terrorist now or in the future. If a democrat were in office, and they wanted to use this law, now they can...This is a horrible regressive law and our country is officially on the slippery slope to fascism.

Posted by: doug theriault | September 29, 2006 10:08 AM

Remember Nazi Germany look in the mirror. We losing our countries values based on fear. This is very dangerous times theres a fool with a itchy trigger finger in charge. I think Canada is sounding better every day, until King George decides to invade that country too.

Posted by: DM | September 29, 2006 10:09 AM

So challenge it and send it to the Supreme Court. If they aprove it, and don't strike it down, fagetaboutit and vote Democratic, tell your friends to vote Democratic, and donate and work to upset the Republican majority. Don't waste time carping.

Posted by: OCPatriot | September 29, 2006 10:18 AM

So challenge it and send it to the Supreme Court. If they aprove it, and don't strike it down, fagetaboutit and vote Democratic, tell your friends to vote Democratic, and donate and work to upset the Republican majority. Don't waste time carping.

Posted by: OCPatriot | September 29, 2006 10:21 AM

These ignorant and hypocritical Republicans screamed bloody murder during the Branch Davidians debacle, and they brazenly championed the Montana Freeman who held off federal agents in some stupid standoff regarding "property rights" (ignoring the fact that they had forfeited those rights by refusing to pay their mortgage). But, in the name of fighting terror, all our freedoms are forfeit. What a shame.

Posted by: CT | September 29, 2006 10:23 AM

Was waterboarding torture when a soldier was pictured applying this "tool" in Viet Nam? Yes, court martialed within a month and our own Generals deemed it illegal.

How far we've come since then.....

Posted by: Not Lame | September 29, 2006 10:33 AM

I think that Lame and Senator Ensign of Nevada share the same problem illiteracy.
Mr. Ensign said in a newsweek interview that the Demococrats should back the Pres 100 percent, on torture, otherwise the " enemy" will take advantage of our discord.
He says that is the reason that Lee went to Gettysburg. He read about the debates in Northern papers and saw the discord and marched on Gettysburg.
Gettysburg!! was the pivotal momement of defeat for Lee and the South. It was all downhill from there for South.
This detainee bill is a terrible attack on our rights as citizens. Anyone that is labeled an enemy combantant can be picked up and detained without charge.
Mr. Bigioli has a point that unless we stop this incredible attack on our rights as citizens, we are going to end up worse than Nazi Germany. And we would have put ourselves there!!

Posted by: Demian | September 29, 2006 10:33 AM

I'm thoroughly disappointed and saddened. I am more fearful for this administration and complicit congress' trampling of the contitution than I am of dying at the hands of a terrorist. Our rights are natural and only entrusted to government with our consent. I personally fell as though my trust has been violated.

Posted by: DeadBird | September 29, 2006 10:37 AM

Dear Lame,

Nice try.

HR 6054 states:

Sec. 948a. Definitions

`In this chapter:

`(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- (A) The term `unlawful enemy combatant' means an individual determined by or under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense--

`(B) Such term includes any individual determined by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal before the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant.

`(C) Such term does not include any alien determined by the President or the Secretary of Defense (whether on an individualized or collective basis), or by any competent tribunal established under their authority, to be--

`(i) a lawful enemy combatant (including a prisoner of war); or

`(ii) a protected person whose trial by a military commission under this chapter would be inconsistent with Articles 64 through 76 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 12, 1949.

THUS, US CITIZENSHIP DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY PRECLUDE DESIGNATION AS AN ENEMY COMBATANT.

Posted by: Mark | September 29, 2006 10:47 AM

boo hoo. let's all stop and weep for all of your offended high and mighty (delusional) sensibilities.

we are at war with ruthless barbarians and we cannot kill them with kindness.

we can kill them with strength and a very constitutional legal construct - which is precisely what the congress passed.

your Bush-hatred is causing you to make wild accusations of "torture" and how all your constitutional rights are being violated.

you didn't even read the bill!

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 10:55 AM

To the appropriately self titled Lame:

The proper way to view this or any legislation is in its worst possible light. Imagine a world where Dems control everything. You go to the Supreme Court to protest. A mid-level political appointee determines that your protest is risking national security. You are wisked away to a sectret location. Your family has no right to know where you are. You have no right to a lawyer nor can you see the evidence against you. You are tortured and confess to a plot to kill the president to save your family under a threat to do them harm. They are arrested as contributors.

This law is an erosion of the bill of rights. We are killing the "great experiment" out of fear. This is wrong and all Americans of all stipes need to put an end to this.

Posted by: Leviticus | September 29, 2006 11:00 AM

Does anyone remember reading about former Senator, Presdiential Candidate, and war hero Bob Dole ending up on a terrorist watchlist a while back? He prefers apparently to withdraw large amounts of cash for purchases rather than use check cards. Good thing he's not a Canadian Muslim or he might have ended up wisked off to Syria for some agressive interrogation. This administration prefers enacting policies in secret and an article noteda few weeks ago that many Americans who travel regularly are now on watchlists after unknowingly violating some new regualtion that they had no idea existed. Is that enough to be labeled enemy combatant or guilty of giving aid to such and get locked up with no opportunity or recourse to challenge it? Two years ago if the Iraqi provisional government were to have produced a court system of this type we would have labeled it an unmitigated failure. We are not giving President George W Bush the tools he needs to fight terrorism. We are forever altering the nature of the executive office. Forget about Bush for one minute and ask yourself if you are willing to trust the next president with this kind of power. President Hillary Clinton? What about the next one, and the one after that? Did any of these bills propose any kind of sunset provision on these extraordinary new powers? Do we anticipate ever needing to review them and determine if they are still necesarry? Would that be considered by Conservatives to be the second a Democrat gets back into office? Don't think the bill includes any provisions about revoking the powers based on the incumbent president's popularity. We will have to live with this in theory forever.

Posted by: bran-solo | September 29, 2006 11:05 AM

This is proof that the dog and pony show that McCain, Warner & Graham put on last week was just that, a show that somehow we were suppose to interpert as them standing up against Bush. Well guess what, Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rummy/Rove got exactly what they wanted, now they have the blessing of congress and the senate to torture and King George gets to decide who gets tortured and who doesn't, they can hold people without charge, give them limited information for their lawyers as to the charges and proof and the best part yet if your an American Citizen they can come pick you up to. Well, isn't that special, all those religious right zealots I guess decided that somewhere in "their" bible it states that all of this is O.K.
So glad we have the "Moral majority" running our country. We certainly are the shining example of 'DEMOCRACY' that these guys are trying to force down the throats of the Middle East and Iraq. So what tomorrow we will wake up and they will authorize public hangings. If the American public puts all of these people back in power and as the majority with NO CHECKS AND BALANCES, we as a country are deserving of everything we receive. What a horrible display of political corruption and abuse of power these so called representatives of the people are displaying. The American public has traded it's sole and morals because we have a guy who is a dictator and our politicians licking his boots, all the while attempting to scare the hell out of little old ladies that the boogyman is coming to get all of us. If they are Bush/Cheney/Rummy created him. Get some kahonnas people, get these people out and put some oversight in Washington. Otherwise were no better then those we claim to be fighting against. Sue F

Posted by: Grannysue | September 29, 2006 11:11 AM

Mr. Lame:

As a preliminary matter, you are completely wrong that the U.S. Constitution only applies to U.S. citizens. Non-citizens enjoy the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the First Amendment right of free speech. How do you feel about this, I wonder? Would you prefer that the government be able to search the homes of legal resident aliens without warrants, or to make laws regulating what aliens may say, upon criminal penalty? Given your views on the current bill, it would not surprise me if you did. But in any case, you don't know the law -- just like you clearly have not read the law under discussion.

Given your confidence that the current law won't be used against any innocent people, I wonder what your view is on the case of the torture of Canadian citizen Maher Arar?

We, the United States of America, shipped this citizen to Syria (Syria! Syria, for crying out loud! That bastion of democracy and our great ally in the war on terror?). There, he was held in a below-ground cell the size of a coffin and tortured for about a year -- even though the Canadians told us early on that it was all a mistake, and that he was not a terrorist. These are simply the facts, as widely reported and confirmed by the Canadian government.

Please share your views on how this is justifed, and how this does not provide worrying evidence about how our government will use the authority it now has. You don't care because he's Canadian? It couldn't happen to you or me? You just trust everything our government might do, in secret, no questions asked? (Actually, no ability to even ask the questions, since we won't even know what's happening.)

It's pathetic that this administration has managed to make you and many others so frightened, that you are willing to voluntarily give up the rights for yourself, and for other people, that we are trying to prevent the terrorists from taking away: most fundamentally, our liberty and our great tradition of freedom and due process under the rule of law (as opposed to the rule of people like King George III or George W. Bush).

Please explain to me how our President has not already handed the terrorists their biggest victory yet. I'm listening.

I hope that you find the courage to stand up for your freedom, and to be worthy of it. Right now, you just sound like a scared little boy, so scared that you are willing to put your trust in authoritarianism. You make a great subject, but a lousy citizen.

Posted by: Ken | September 29, 2006 11:12 AM

I think we can all save our breath with Mr. Lame, who is probably 12 years old. He clearly is not willing to engage based on the facts.

Posted by: Ken | September 29, 2006 11:14 AM

Sec. 948a. Definitions

`In this chapter:

`(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- (A) The term `unlawful enemy combatant' means--

`(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces); or

`(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.

`(B) CO-BELLIGERENT- In this paragraph, the term `co-belligerent', with respect to the United States, means any State or armed force joining and directly engaged with the United States in hostilities or directly supporting hostilities against a common enemy.

`(2) LAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- The term `lawful enemy combatant' means a person who is--

`(A) a member of the regular forces of a State party engaged in hostilities against the United States;

`(B) a member of a militia, volunteer corps, or organized resistance movement belonging to a State party engaged in such hostilities, which are under responsible command, wear a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance, carry their arms openly, and abide by the law of war; or

`(C) a member of a regular armed force who professes allegiance to a government engaged in such hostilities, but not recognized by the United States.

`(3) ALIEN- The term `alien' means a person who is not a citizen of the United States.

`(4) CLASSIFIED INFORMATION- The term `classified information' means the following:

`(A) Any information or material that has been determined by the United States Government pursuant to statute, Executive order, or regulation to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national security.

`(B) Any restricted data, as that term is defined in section 11 y. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2014(y)).

`(5) GENEVA CONVENTIONS- The term `Geneva Conventions' means the international conventions signed at Geneva on August 12, 1949.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 11:15 AM

Dear Lame,

How many tours in Iraq have you done so far? Unless you are on your third tour, you don't got me beat and you haven't done your share to defeat the "barbarians" you lament.

Nevertheless, the reason I have worn the uniform for over 20 years is because the U.S. Constitution means something. I just want to see that meaning protected.

Keeping the rights inherent to U.S. Citizenhip inviolable is not asking too much of any Congress or president in my view.

Killing bad guys doesn't necessitate an abandonment of American values.

Leviticus, I love you.

Posted by: Mark | September 29, 2006 11:18 AM

We the people of the United States...

NOT

We the people of the world.

The constitution provides US citizens consent to be governed...and we decide what that means.

Not Geneva.

Not France.

Not al-Qaeda.

Not the UN.

Moreover, you keep referring to people having their homes searched.

This applies to people picked up in Afghanistan and abroad.

Are you trying to tell me that a terrorist in some hut in the Sudan has the right to Habeus Corpus petition???

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 11:22 AM

Mr. Lame should feel much safer now that this bill has passed. He should now put his thumb back in his mouth and go away.

Posted by: WorldWideWeber | September 29, 2006 11:23 AM

And to you, Mark.

How would you like it if all the people our military fights can just throw their hands up and say "I want my lawyer."

You want to be sued for doing your job? Soon cases will be made against every member of the armed services for any little technicality that comes up. We'll need a jag lawyer for every soldier.

Leviticus needs to look at the extreme in the other sense. what happens when we give access to our federal courts to terrorists or foreign enemy combatants? follow out that extreme.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 11:23 AM

What has happened to conservatives and Republicans who once feared and mistrusted over-reaching federal power? Where are they? Has the war on terror caused them to do an abrupt about-face on the matter?

Posted by: Puzzled | September 29, 2006 11:24 AM

"Your definition of torture is too vague and too sentimental. Hanging someone upside down and splashing water on their face is not torture."

Your definition of torture should be this: Would you consider it torture if the government did this to your mother? Because under this law, they can.

Posted by: TrueAmerican | September 29, 2006 11:30 AM

my mother is an American citizen. she cannot be designated an enemy combatant. she is covered by the constitution.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 11:36 AM

Thank you for your service Mark.

Mr. Lame if I am right that this bill errodes the bill of rights - which I am not asking you to concede - would you then be more heistant to support it? I will concede that the extreme other position is not very pretty but my point is that we are willing to fight with one hand tied behind our backs because we are not them - we are better. We give things to our enemies that they can't even understand. Maybe I am wrong and this is a good and just policy but what's the hurry? Why don't we let everyone read the thing before we rush it to a vote.
One last point: This is the one instance where we can all thank our lucky stars for Nino Scalia. If any of the chicken hawks our there think he is actually let this junk fly you are sadly mistaken.

Posted by: Levitcus | September 29, 2006 11:46 AM

Mr. Lame,
Can you read?

"The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States." - Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/benchconference/2006/09/shame_on_congress_for_passing.html

Posted by: TrueAmerican | September 29, 2006 11:48 AM

Leviticus,

If I believed that this bill had anything to do with American citizens and/or eroded the bill of rights, I would be foresquare against it.

I believe that in the zeal of politics, words like torture and "rights" get used incorrectly to stoke fear in people.

The Democrats want people to believe something that is not true. But the Constitution has several perfectly legal avenues that "infringe" upon our rights in times of war.

The Constitution is not a suicide pact (the phrase goes). But I will agree with anyone who demonstrates that my rights as a citizen will be affected by this, that this is a bad bill.

But roughing up a terrorist to get information does not. No one is talking about setting up concentration/torture camps where we are punishing people with torture. There is a reason we use these methods: they work. Several plots were foiled because of information extracted from KSM by the CIA.

I would ask everyone who is condemning this bill to volunteer to trade places with people who would have been in these attacks if we didn't get the information. Let's move those innocent people out and move you in to be vaporized by the terrorist. You can go with all your platitudes and sentiment.

I want to LIVE free.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 12:03 PM

Mr. Lame,
What I don't understand is, you posted this:

`(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- (A) The term `unlawful enemy combatant' means--

`(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces); or

`(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.

Did you notice that it does not prohibit Americans from being designated as Enemy Combatants? It does not say "An alien who has engaged..." it says "A person who has engaged..."

Other legal experts believe this would apply to Americans (see posting above). Do you not believe it simply because you don't want to believe it? Or do you think it will be thrown out by the supreme court?

Posted by: TrueAmerican | September 29, 2006 12:14 PM

First, you all can call me Aaron. Lame is what I think this hysteria is.

On the bill that passed the senate. It's purpose is clearly, CLEARLY stated:

Sec. 948b. Military commissions generally

`(a) Purpose- This chapter establishes procedures governing the use of military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants engaged in hostilities against the United States for violations of the law of war and other offenses triable by military commission.

It says ALIEN unlawful enemy combatants.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 12:36 PM

My God what a fine example of Americans on this blog. Mr. Lame is providing the republican talking points and you people are appropriately shooting them down with logic and facts. I see no need to help, you're doing a great job.

God Bless America and the Constitution. Vote all republicans out of office, they've gone too far once again.

Posted by: Sully | September 29, 2006 12:41 PM

Mr Lame,
the issue is not if you'd like to see me go in canada or not (don't worry I'm really moving and I can assure you this administration is one big motive and should i remember you that more than half american university academicians are foreign born...and I can assure you a lot of us are considering to move out of the country for our children's sake).
The issue is not if Italy would speak german or not if it wasn't for the americans (we would speak italian I guess, Mussolini was on hitler's side, just to be precise) we know that, but america did some damage to its reputation before (mc Carthy anyone?) and it's doing a lot of damage to it again and as much as I love this country (because I do) you are betraying the moral values that your founding fathers set, I have the utmost repect for Us servicemen not for US politicians anymore (and I think a lot of your military share the same thought). And you might not care about what is the perception of the US outside of it but there are five billions people out there and you are turning even your allies against you (Italy has troops in Irak and Afghanistan and is a NATO country), in this globalized world this will have consequences I can assure you, maybe people at a certain point will not want to buy american products or host american tourists, who knows. And just to be precise again, Italy (and europe) in the seventies-eighties had a lot of terrorism, in Italy there were 1200 deaths (over a 60 mil population, percentage wise more deaths than the US with 9/11, so the argument you don't know what you are talking about doesn't apply)).
Finally I'm not going back to Italy because I wanted the best for my kids and my family, I thought it was the US, but it's not anymore...
Alessandro

PS it's amazing how people don't learn from history, Rome was a republic then an empire then fell (when they started burning christian terrorists), Germany was a republic under weimar, then hitler was elected, then started deciding who was a terrorist and who not and we all know how it ended, I just hope really it's not history repeating....

Posted by: alessandro biglioli | September 29, 2006 12:42 PM

Moreover, it states who can have a military commission:

`Sec. 948c. Persons subject to military commissions

`Any alien unlawful enemy combatant engaged in hostilities or having supported hostilities against the United States is subject to trial by military commission as set forth in this chapter.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 12:42 PM

What makes everyone think that Mr. Bush, Mr. Rove, the Republican Congress and Supreme Court are going to abide by the two term limitation on being president ? It's just another part of the constitution to subvert.

Posted by: Ray Seese | September 29, 2006 12:44 PM

My grandfather, great uncle, father, uncle, and ex-husband fought in wars to preserve individuals' rights - yes, even if those individuals are murderers/spies/terrorists. (What if YOU were falsely accused and imprisoned?)

This country will crumble as surely as the twin towers did, if the president, vice president and Congress destroy its foundation which they are doing with this law.

Posted by: Lauren | September 29, 2006 12:45 PM

In regard to Mr. Lame's inability to parse English, I believe he is simply exhibiting the same warped logic/excuse we will one day listen to in shock from our president: anyone hostile to the (government of) the United States rescinds their rights as citizens.

It's the next level of xenophobia: aliens are the other; those who disagree with me are other; those who disagree with me are aliens.

Wake up, everyone. The shining city on the hill has been sacked.

Posted by: Pragmatist | September 29, 2006 12:56 PM

Someone refresh my memory. Was Jose Padilla an American citizen?

Posted by: Average Joe | September 29, 2006 12:57 PM

I see it gets better -
Now Mr. Lame wants us to take comfort in the fact that we, as American citizens, are not even entitled to the same kangaroo-courts alien enemy combatants would face. Indefinite detention, yes. Trials, no. Glad that's been cleared up.

Posted by: Pragmatist | September 29, 2006 12:59 PM

I would like to repeat one last time my question for all supporters of this new law. Assume that Bush and company are in fact morally infallible and would never intentionally abuse this power. Assume that the case of Mr. Arar was in fact some kind of one in a million aberration- that authorities never accidentally grab an innocent guy and that torture never produces a false confession. Assume that no foreign government we ever come into conflict with would ever apply the same standards to US soldiers or citizens. Bush and company we can believe are all righteous and infallible. What about the next administration? Does anyone truly believe that every person elected to the office of president from now until whenever will exercise the same moral infallibility? This is not about Bush, this is about the actual scope and structure of the federal government. As Newt Gingrich once pointed out- the real reason for all of the checks and balances written into the Constitution is that the founding fathers didn't really trust each other and certainly envisioned that one day someone who they realy wouldn't trust would end up in office. However this law currently defines enemy combatant, it seems to make pretty clear that the president now has authority to adjust that definition and create new designations however he sees fit. Can anyone truly imagine any scenario under which this kind of power would not eventually be abused?

Posted by: bran-solo | September 29, 2006 01:00 PM

Lame wrote:
--Moreover, it states who can have a military commission:
`Sec. 948c. Persons subject to military commissions
`Any alien unlawful enemy combatant engaged in hostilities or having supported hostilities against the United States is subject to trial by military commission as set forth in this chapter.--

That's correct for having a military tribunal. As I understand the legislation Americans cannot be subjected to military tribunals under this legislation, but they can still be picked up and held without habias corpus rights indefinitely.

Those in Gitmo have been there for many years. The question you need to ask is how long you would allow the government to hold your mother if she was found to have "innocently" given to a charity that eventually sent the money to a terrorist? If you think she has rights against being picked up and held indefinitely without a lawyer, read the legislation again. I don't see it.

Posted by: Sully | September 29, 2006 01:04 PM

Bush etal did this because they know they have the Republican congress by the balls. Warner, McCain, and that other Southern guy were just acting, posturing, pretending to be be principled. It was all a show. America under Bush is on the way to a totalitarian regime. Bush supporters are gleeful because they are on Bush's party. Wait until the Democrats get into power and we'll hear them screaming. This too shall pass because America is truly good; it gets hijacked from time to time by a few illiterate rednecks; but America will recover.

Posted by: M.Stratas | September 29, 2006 01:07 PM

Mr. Lame,
Let me explain.
This bill does two related things.
1. The part you are talking about is that is sets up military commissions. Aliens only, etc.
2. The part I am talking about. It defines the term 'unlawful enemy combatant'.

Analysis:
1. The part I'm talking about:
"By writing into law for the first time the definition of an "unlawful enemy combatant," the bill empowers the executive branch to detain indefinitely anyone it determines to have 'purposefully and materially' supported anti-U.S. hostilities.

2. The part you are talking about:
"Only foreign nationals among those detainees can be tried by the military commissions, as they are known, and sentenced to decades in jail or put to death."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/28/AR2006092801763.html

Posted by: True American | September 29, 2006 01:10 PM

again, my mother is an American citizen. she cannot go to Gitmo.

There are no Americans at Gitmo.

In fact (I have to double check), but I don't believe anyone at gitmo was captured on American soil.

This legislation is simply defining what to do with people who are foreign enemy combatants.

They do not have US constitutional protections because they are not US citizens. If you want this to happen, then we will have to Marandize and lawyer up any enemy combatant! They do not have the same rights we do. I wish you all could stop panicking and simply look at the language of the legislation.

We are not discussion American citizens.

Posted by: Sully | September 29, 2006 01:10 PM

sorry, that previous name should have read "Lame" not sully.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 01:13 PM

And I am really getting tired of people who try to tell me to learn history.

I ask that everyone pick up a book and read what we did with POWs of WWII.

They didn't even get all these rights you want to confer on these terrorists.

They couldn't challenge their designation in federal court! How insane would that be? Well, just as insane as many of you sound trying to ratify a bill of rights for terrorists.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 01:16 PM

Even better -
There were no Nuremburg trials. When will the revelations end? Don't keep us in suspense, Mr. Lame.

Posted by: Pragmatist | September 29, 2006 01:19 PM

Okay, True American. I am seeing what the problem is here.

You're reading an article and the analysis of people with agendas. I am looking at the actual text of the legislation.

The definition for enemy combatant is contained within the scope of the legislation...which only deals with ALIEN enemy combatants. Someone snipped a piece that they offer no context to. If you read the bill, the beginning states clearly:

SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR MILITARY COMMISSIONS.

(a) In General- The President is authorized to establish military commissions for the trial of alien unlawful enemy combatants engaged in hostilities against the United States for violations of the law of war and other offenses specifically made triable by military commission as provided in chapter 47 of title 10, United States Code, and chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as enacted by this Act).

(b) Construction- The authority in subsection (a) may not be construed to alter or limit the authority of the President under the Constitution and laws of the United States to establish military commissions for areas declared to be under martial law or in occupied territories should circumstances so require.

(c) Scope of Punishment Authority- A military commission established pursuant to subsection (a) shall have authority to impose upon any person found guilty under a proceeding under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as so enacted), a sentence that is appropriate for the offense or offenses for which there is a finding of guilt, including a sentence of death if authorized under such chapter, imprisonment for life or a term of years, payment of a fine or restitution, or such other lawful punishment or condition of punishment as the military commission shall direct.

You notice that the death penalty is off the table. This is a first. Before, we could execute spies, sabetours and terrorists. Now we cannot. So how is this "erroding" anything?

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 01:20 PM

Wait, wait . . . Let me anticipate you:
There were no Nuremburg trials and therefore the military's Uniform Code of Justice, being in part based on that experience, is a liberal myth.

This is fun.

Posted by: Pragmatist | September 29, 2006 01:23 PM

Prag, the N Trials were for the leaders.

I am talking about all the Nazis we kept in camps here in America...where were all their lawyers? Show me all these petitions. Show me how we did this before and are now not.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 01:25 PM

I made a mistake! Scratch the comment about the death penalty.

It is on the table. Thank goodnes.

Posted by: Lame | September 29, 2006 01:27 PM

All mocking of the Lame among us aside, the issue here is whether you love this country as an ideal or a physical entity.

As a collection of people and property, there's nothing special about the U.S. other than its past good fortune. As an ideal, though, the U.S. is worthy of epic love and sacrifice.

Our government has put materialism ahead of idealism. Cupiditas versus Charitas, friends. All sin is the same.

Posted by: Pragmatist | September 29, 2006 01:32 PM

Mr. Lame,
I read the text of the legislation, and formed my own opinion. I also read analysis by other legal experts to be sure I wasn't missing something. They agree with me. I posted those links, because you already have the text of the legislation, apparently, and have read it.

According to my analysis and that of experts in the field, your mother could be detained indefinately and interrogated, but not tried in a military court.

Posted by: TrueAmerican | September 29, 2006 01:34 PM

Lame is an example of our tax dollars at work -- some shill from the Bush Administration who actually reads the WaPo.

Along with the Republicans, every Democrat who voted for that bill should be ejected. Starting with Lieberman, the ultimate Republican boot-licker.

Posted by: gchaucer2 | September 29, 2006 01:40 PM

If I as an alien from Germany may be permitted to join the discussion with Mr. Lame: First of all, there are various versions of the "Military Commission Act of 2006" around. Mr. Lame has corectly quoted the version that is before me (S. 3930 dated 25 September, 2006), Military commissions may only try aliens.
But if Mr. Lame has read the entire bill, surely he has taken note, inter alia, of Sec. 950fff "Wrongfully aiding the enemy".
This section specifies that "Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States....shall be punished as a military commission under this chapter may direct.

It seems obvious that there is a contradiction. If the chapter on military commission deals only with "alien unlawful enemy combatants", how can these evil people owe an allegiance to the United States that they could breach? And if we are talking about US citizens, how can they be punished as a military commission -that deals only with aliens - may direct if they aid the enemy?

One explanation is that in the rush to get the bill passed before Congress adjourned, these and other contradictions and inconsistencies were not detected.

Also, in order to fully understand the issues, one must read the 60-odd pages of the bill itself, but also the four Geneva Conventions, the War Crimes Act, the AUMF (Public Law 107-40), the Presidentional Memorandum dated February 7, 2002, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 126 S. Ct. 2749 (2006). That is a big order for any legislator (or his or her staff) and of course also for the journalists covering the story.

And finally, the bill is a complicated piece of legisltion. It is breaking new ground regarding the military commissions; but it is also changing existing laws and it influences the interpretation of international treaties.

One does not have to be a prophet to predict that passage of the bill will not be the last word in the matter.

Posted by: Hermann Hagena | September 30, 2006 07:22 AM

What nobody has mentioned yet is the evolving context surrounding this legislation.

The GOP has all but effected a coup d'etat. It has been in the works for 30 years and we are seeing it play out in living color.

It isn't that these legislators didn't know what was in this bill. They inserted the remaining bits and pieces necessary to turn this country into a dictatorship, also known as the unitary presidency in "war" time.

The context: In addition to this bill, we have elections manufactured by GOP-owned computers. We have detention camps being build in the United States by, who else, Halliburton. We have a law that includes restrictions or prohibitions the courts' jurisdiction. We have an administration that, by its actions in the last five years, proves its utter contempt for the Constitution, and its willingness to conflate American citizens who oppose it with aiders and abettors of terrorism. We have a government doing all it can to impoverish all of us, the better to control us. We have a massive domestic espionage machine in place: your emails and phone calls and even your home are legal game. We have legislators and lawyers opening denying that there is a right to privacy. We've already had an effort to permit monopoly control of the media, but fortunately we beat that one back -- not that it's done much good, because our journalists are scared to death of losing their careers. And we have legislation that takes punitive action against attorneys who WIN constitutional appeals. Get my drift?

Hey Lame. Do you REALLY think Americans are too stupid to figure out powerful, effective, and conclusive ways to fight jihadists and at the same time defend our way of life? Well, not me.

No, instead, I think we've been had and that people like you have been and are busily holding open the door for the worst enemy the US has ever engaged: The domestic Far Right.

The men and women who've done this all swore oaths to protect and defende the Constitution.

What I've described I call treason. What do you call it?

Posted by: Bluecrone | September 30, 2006 09:23 PM

Bluecrone's comment, "The men and women who've done this all swore oaths to protect and defende the Constitution." reinforced what I've been thinking since I read about Arlen Specter's vote on this bill (Specter's one of my senators). Specter is quoted as saying that the denial of habeas corpus to detainees is "patently unconstitutional", but he voted for it. I don't understand how that squares with his oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Specter further opines that the courts will sort it out, which may be optimistic, given the bill's restrictions on access to the courts - but he did take an oath and, based on his public statements, did vote contrary to his oath.

Posted by: Virginia | October 1, 2006 10:53 AM

I find it humorous that every leftsider here is so confident that Dems are going to take control in November. The current polls show that it is unlikely. As for all those that want to somehow have Republicans or Bush removed are either delusional over the possibility of an impeachment, or they don't believe in the electoral process.
I'm all for caution in the legislation, but I don't think Democrats are any better equiped to fight this conflict. They're just as likely to parade around anything that will help their partisanship.

Posted by: Amaduli | October 1, 2006 02:36 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company