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Republican lawmakers and the White House agreed over the weekend to alter new legislation on military commissions to allow the United States to detain and try a wider range of foreign nationals than an earlier version of the bill permitted, according to government sources.
Lawmakers and administration officials announced last week that they had reached accord on the plan for the detention and military trials of suspected terrorists, and it is scheduled for a vote this week. But in recent days the Bush administration and its House allies successfully pressed for a less restrictive description of how the government could designate civilians as "unlawful enemy combatants," the sources said yesterday. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of negotiations over the bill.
But the bill's new definition "would give the administration a stronger basis on which to argue that Congress has recognized that the battlefield is wherever the terrorist is, and they can seize people far from the area of combat, label them as unlawful enemy combatants and detain them indefinitely," said Suzanne Spaulding, an assistant general counsel at the CIA from 1989 to 1995.
The question of just who is or can be an "unlawful combatant" – and therefore, according to the Bush administration, may be seized and jailed without trial or even an acknowledgment from the authorities – is the issue at hand, and the authoritarian "conservatives" of the Bizarro persuasion are pushing hard to breach the inner battlements of the Constitution, as the Post piece makes all too clear:
"Human rights experts expressed concern yesterday that the language in the new provision would be a precedent-setting congressional endorsement for the indefinite detention of anyone who, as the bill states, 'has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States' or its military allies. The definition applies to foreigners living inside or outside the United States and does not rule out the possibility of designating a U.S. citizen as an unlawful combatant."
The ultimate expansion of the "unlawful combatant" definition to include any and all opposition to the War Party, whether military or political, is only a matter of time, and not much time at that. This administration and its allies have long maintained that their critics are "objectively" aiding the terrorist enemy. If Iraq is the main theater of our war on terrorism, then criticism of the war effort, such as organizing an antiwar demonstration, amounts to "material support" for "hostilities against the United States." And if we include in this legal interdict all criticism of our "military allies," then participating in a demonstration against Israeli aggression in Lebanon could also get one designated an "unlawful combatant."
new legislation on military commissions to allow the United States to detain and try
Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
With this provision, she could also designate anyone she pleased as an enemy combatant. Not a good thing in the hands of any one person.
Originally posted by FlyersFan
The thing is .. it's not really in the hands of one person. We have a checks and balances and I do think that, most of the time, it works. That gives me comfort.
It's healthy to keep a nervous eye towards those we put in charge of things. We have to trust to a certain degree .. but we also have to keep an eye on them. ALL of them.
Originally posted by closettrekkie
I may be off base here, but I don't think it's that we should be so scared as to WHO can be labeled a terrorist, it's what they consider hostilites. I agree that terrorists should be arrested and tried. And I think the government should have all the help they can get in arresting people that commit hostilites towards the government. It's what they would consider hostilities that concerns me. Do you know what I mean?
The terrorism we confront today springs from:
Subcultures of conspiracy and misinformation. Terrorists recruit more effectively from populations whose information about the world is contaminated by falsehoods and corrupted by conspiracy theories. The distortions keep alive grievances and filter out facts that would challenge popular prejudices and self-serving propaganda.
# Communications, which allow terrorists the ability to receive, store, manipulate, and exchange information. The methods by which terrorists communicate are numerous and varied.
They [terrorists] also use today’s technologies with increasing acumen and sophistication. This is especially true with the Internet, which they exploit to create and disseminate propaganda
We and our partners will continue to target the communication nodes of our enemy.
# Propaganda operations, which are used by terrorists to justify violent action as well as inspire individuals to support or join the movement. The ability of terrorists to exploit the Internet and 24/7 worldwide media coverage allows them to bolster their prominence as well as feed a steady diet of radical ideology, twisted images, and conspiracy theories to potential recruits in all corners of the globe. Besides a global reach, these technologies allow terrorists to propagate their message quickly, often before an effective counter to terrorist messages can be coordinated and distributed. These are force multipliers for our enemy.
Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
"The big deal" is that is that if Bush and company are successful and get what they want, there is nothing to stop them from arresting WITHOUT CHARGE and detaining WITHOUT TRIAL a US citizen who is protesting against the war or doing anything that the president DECIDES is in opposition to this war. That's the big deal.