McCain and Lieberman’s “Enemy Belligerent” Act Could Set U.S. on Path to Military Dictatorship, writes Alternet.org:
On March 4th, Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a bill called the “Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010” that, if passed, would set this country on a course to become a military dictatorship.
The bill is only 12 pages long, but that is plenty of room to grant the president the power to order the arrest, interrogation, and imprisonment of anyone — including a U.S. citizen — indefinitely, on the sole suspicion that he or she is affiliated with terrorism, and on the president’s sole authority as commander in chief.
Well, that seems to be a quite dangerous piece of legislation. Let’s have a look at some of its provisions (the full text is here, my emphasis):
(a) Military Custody Requirement- Whenever within the United States, its territories, and possessions, or outside the territorial limits of the United States, an individual is captured or otherwise comes into the custody or under the effective control of the United States who is 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, and who may be an unprivileged enemy belligerent, the individual shall be placed in military custody for purposes of initial interrogation and determination of status in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
(b) Reasonable Delay for Intelligence Activities- An individual who may be an unprivileged enemy belligerent and who is initially captured or otherwise comes into the custody or under the effective control of the United States by an intelligence agency of the United States may be held, interrogated, or transported by the intelligence agency and placed into military custody for purposes of this Act if retained by the United States within a reasonable time after the capture or coming into the custody or effective control by the intelligence agency, giving due consideration to operational needs and requirements to avoid compromise or disclosure of an intelligence mission or intelligence sources or methods.
An individual, including a citizen of the United States, determined to be an unprivileged enemy belligerent under section 3(c)(2) in a manner which satisfies Article 5 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners in which the individual has engaged, or which the individual has purposely and materially supported, consistent with the law of war and any authorization for the use of military force provided by Congress pertaining to such hostilities.
Now that means the following: Any individual, anywhere in the world, can be detained indefinitely by the US military, simply on being suspected of providing material support for hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.
(d)(2) CRITERIA FOR DESIGNATION OF INDIVIDUALS AS HIGH-VALUE DETAINEES- The regulations required by this subsection shall include criteria for designating an individual as a high-value detainee based on the following:
(A) The potential threat the individual poses for an attack on civilians or civilian facilities within the United States or upon United States citizens or United States civilian facilities abroad at the time of capture or when coming under the custody or control of the United States.
(B) The potential threat the individual poses to United States military personnel or United States military facilities at the time of capture or when coming under the custody or control of the United States.
(E) Such other matters as the President considers appropriate.
The provisions of this proposed act (i.e. bill) are a bit vague. The words may be, potential leave a lot of room for interpretation by military or intelligence officials.
How do you determine if some is a member of a terrorist group? Since they usually don’t carry member cards, all that is needed is someone who believes, for any reason whatsover, including personal dislike, that this is the case.
What’s more, the individual doesn’t even have to have commited or even contemplated any hostile act, it is enough that he is deemed a potential threat or to be of potential intelligence value.
Once in there, the individual can be detained indefinitely and without access to any courts. What a wonderful way to get rid of some people you don’t like. However, even if you assume that there will be no abuse of power, there still will be false positives.
Alternet suspects, that this could set the US to the path of a military dictatorship. Worrisome indeed.