The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act of 2010, a legislative monstrosity produced by John McCain and Joe Lieberman, goes further than any Bush-era legislation in abrogating the core principle of Anglo-American justice: that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty. While the bill is deplorable in every detail -- it denies terrorist suspects their Miranda rights and codifies indefinite detention without trial -- one particular provision effectively ends the presumption of innocence for all of us. That provision codifies the President's right to define any criteria he chooses to deliver any individual into the legal Twilight Zone defined by the bill.That so many Americans who seem to have functioning brains support this sort of fascism is bewildering to me. Has fear deranged them? Or is this just a cynical ploy to get the votes of the cowardly and the enraged?
The bill authorizes the President to establish an "interagency team" to make a "preliminary determination of the status" of an individual "suspected of engaging in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners through an act of terrorism, or by other means in violation of the laws of war, or of purposely and materially supporting such hostilities." That team will determine whether the suspect shall be accorded a preliminary designation as a "high value detainee" (a.k.a. "unprivileged enemy belligerent" -- the bill makes no coherent distinction between these terms). A final status determination is to be made by the Attorney General and Secretary of Defense; the President can only weigh in if these two disagree. Incredibly, the entire procedure from capture to final status determination is to be completed within 48 hours.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010