by Eric Martin
Any national-secuirty related bill sponsored by John McCain and Joe Lieberman should be assigned a presumption of doubt as a matter of course considering the sponsors and their respective track records. Well, the Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010 doesn't exactly shatter any preconceptions. As Marc Ambinder reports (via K-Drum), "it would allow the U.S. military to detain U.S. citizens without trial indefinitely in the U.S. based on suspected activity."
Indefinite detention of U.S. citizens (and non-citizens) without trial based on the accusations of the executive branch, codified in law.
This is so retrograde, so reactionary, that, in essence, what they are calling for is a repeal of the Magna Carta and the centuries of precedent that followed.
The gory, and I do mean gory, details:
The bill asks the President to determine criteria for designating an individual as a "high-value detainee" if he/she: (1) poses a threat of an attack on civilians or civilian facilities within the U.S. or U.S. facilities abroad; (2) poses a threat to U.S. military personnel or U.S. military facilities; (3) potential intelligence value; (4) is a member of al Qaeda or a terrorist group affiliated with al Qaeda or (5) such other matters as the President considers appropriate. The President must submit the regulations and guidance to the appropriate committees of Congress no later than 60 days after enactment.
To the extent possible, the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Team must make a preliminary determination whether the detainee is an unprivileged enemy belligerent within 48 hours of taking detainee into custody.
The High-Value Detainee Interrogation Team must submit its determination to the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General after consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General make a final determination and report the determination to the President and the appropriate committees of Congress. In the case of any disagreement between the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General, the President will make the determination.
As one might expect, Glenn Greenwald has more:
It's probably the single most extremist, tyrannical and dangerous bill introduced in the Senate in the last several decades, far beyond the horrific, habeas-abolishing Military Commissions Act. It literally empowers the President to imprison anyone he wants in his sole discretion by simply decreeing them a Terrorist suspect — including American citizens arrested on U.S. soil. The bill requires that all such individuals be placed in military custody, and explicitly says that they "may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners," which everyone expects to last decades, at least. It's basically a bill designed to formally authorize what the Bush administration did to American citizen Jose Padilla — arrest him on U.S. soil and imprison him for years in military custody with no charges.
This bill has produced barely a ripple of controversy, its two main sponsors will continue to be treated as Serious Centrists and feted on Sunday shows, and it's hard to imagine any real resistance to its passage.
If the bill passes both houses, and Obama vetos it, no doubt the GOP will lambaste him using that veto as proof that he is "soft" on terror. Hell, that will be the cudgel wielded in the Congressional fight regardless.
This bill, not any minor tweaking of private health industry regulation, would actually do much to upend the American system of governance. And my money is on one of the major Party's fighting like hell to enshrine it in law.