There have been a number of compromises made with regard to this bill which arguably render it less threatening to civil liberties. (Note the use of
the word "arguably," as I personally am still quite uncomfortable with this bill, however I am trying to be objective for the purposes of this
For example, when taken together, this:
``(3) ALIEN.--The term `alien' means a person who is not
a citizen of the United States.
948c. Persons subject to military commissions
``Any alien unlawful enemy combatant is subject to trial by
military commission under this chapter.
...could be construed as meaning that only unlawful enemy combatants who are also designated as alien
may be subjected to military commissions,
and that while (as you will see below) there is now broad authority to declare almost anyone an unlawful enemy combatant, declaring someone an
is less broad, and more specific. That could, at least potentially, be construed as protecting U.S. citizens from the impact of this
However, there remain several elements which I consider potentially dangerous. Among those are the following:
`` 948a. Definitions
``In this chapter:
``(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT.--(A) The term `unlaw-
ful 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 com-
petent 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.
5. TREATY OBLIGATIONS NOT ESTABLISHING GROUNDS FOR CER-
(a) IN GENERAL.--No person may invoke the Geneva Conven-
tions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil
action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current
or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other
agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in
any court of the United States or its States or territories.
7. HABEAS CORPUS MATTERS.
(a) IN GENERAL.--Section 2241 of title 28, United States Code,
is amended by striking both the subsection (e) added by section
1005(e)(1) of Public Law 109148 (119 Stat. 2742) and the sub-
section (e) added by added by section 1405(e)(1) of Public Law
109163 (119 Stat. 3477) and inserting the following new subsection
``(e)(1) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to
hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed
by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who
has been determined by the United States to have been properly
detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.
``(2) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section
1005(e) of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (10 U.S.C. 801
note), no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear
or consider any other action against the United States or its agents
relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial,
or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained
by the United States and has been determined by the United
States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant
or is awaiting such determination.''.
Taken together, the above elements of the bill seem to be granting fairly broad interpretive powers to commissions and tribunals, as well as to the
President and Secretary of Defense, as pertains to who exactly may be considered an unlawful enemy combatant or co-belligerent, while also completely
denying those declared to be such certain rights. This could be construed as creating the legal potential for U.S. citizens to have those rights
removed under the right circumstances, since the interpretive power apparently granted is so broad.
I'm no legal expert. Can anyone with legal education or experience - objectively and without bias or political agenda - clarify whether the use of
the term alien
would protect U.S. citizens? If not, then I'm even more concerned than I already was.
Thus ends the objective portion of this post. I'd like to conclude it with the following unobjective, personal statement: I personally believe any
human being, regardless of crimes committed or alleged, and regardless of nationality or citizenship, should have certain inalienable rights, and that
among them should be the right to fair, efficient, transparent, and humane trials. I also believe that the standards of such trials should be equal
for everyone, irrespective of the crimes alleged or committed. That isn't a popular view, but I feel I have the right to it. I respect those who
disagree with this, as well as their views, and the processes through which they have arrived at those views.