"Everybody knows the war is over; everybody knows the good guys lost."

I'm hunting down for the final text of the bill, but here's how it appears to stand at the moment:

Once the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is signed, the President of the United States will have the statutory authority to designate any person on Earth an enemy combatant -- at will, with no oversight whatsoever -- and order that person disappeared into an opaque and unaccountable system of military courts.

6 comments:

Chris said...

I thought it was only non-citizens..am I wrong? not that that makes it a whole lot better but...

catastrophile said...

Indications at this point are that citizens technically retain the right to challenge their detention in court . . . assuming they can get in touch with a lawyer. Once you're declared an enemy combatant, you can be tossed into the same tribunal system as everybody else until you get a federal court to order your release.

Chris said...

explain something to me though...why don't you think we should have different laws for citizens--why do our Constitutional protections belong to all--I am not looking for a screaming match --maybe a serious discussion though :O) not something that can happen everywhere

catastrophile said...

Because the Constitution does not grant rights, it bars the government from infringing on those rights. We're not talking about the trappings of citizenship here -- voting and running for office, for example -- we're talking about fundamentals of human liberty. The idea that a government must show cause for taking away a person's freedom or liberty does not apply to Americans only.

If we're prepared to declare that non-Americans have no rights in our eyes, what standing do we have to argue against extremists who say that if you refuse to convert to Islam, your life is forfeit? How do we keep a straight face when criticizing other nations for declaring individuals "enemies of the state" and disappearing them?

What kind of principle is it if we apply it to "Americans only"?

Chris said...

I'm not sure. I like the argument that the Constitution doesn't grant rights it bars the government from infringing on them...sounds good...but I believe that the rights we have go hand in hand with certain responsibilities...it's a civil contract, when you violate the laws, the government takes way some rights--voting, freedom, etc...are we just talking criminal stuff here or are people who are not here legally supposed t qualify for government progrms like health care and social security--I know they are not rights--but the extension of the argument you make is often used to extend this other stuff-social programs--to those who, in my view are not entitled to them and so I'm wondering where you draw the line. I don't think that the government should be ble to hold anyone indefinately and not charge them...but I do wonder if all of the legal protections given to citizens should apply to non-citizens. sorry it takes me so long to get back over here...I am swamped with work...also, i know my tone isn't higbrow--I don't feel like I have to pretend I know anything over here mostly because I don't feel like ten people will scream at me if i breathe wrong :O)

catastrophile said...

I think the standard is pretty plain . . . if you're within US jurisdiction, you're subject to US law. A non-citizen is subject to the same criminal code the rest of us are; the same tax code; the same privileges and penalties.

If you go through the process, register and pay into Social Security, you get to collect benefits later. If you don't, or you use false infomation, you don't get credit for it. You're also defrauding the government. If you earn taxable income, you're liable for tax on that income. If you don't pay it, and they catch you, they'll take your stuff.

I hear these arguments now and then -- for example, "why should those illegal immigrants be allowed to sue Wal-Mart for being mistreated? They're here illegally, they shouldn't have the right to use our courts!" Well, gee, there's a wonderful precedent to set. Let's say non-citizens aren't entitled to the full protection of the law, and see what happens. Down that path lies madness.

But if you're talking about less-fundamental stuff . . . Medicaid-type programs . . . tough call. I'd have a hard time arguing that somebody who's in the country legally and abiding by the terms of their residency should be refused services, but if they're doing so, that could certainly become an issue if and when their residency is reviewed.