Judge, Jury, and Executioner Rumsfeld

by TChris

This sums up nicely the Bush administration's policy regarding the detention of those it suspects of terrorism:

"The position of the executive branch," said Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University who has consulted with lawyers for several detainees, "is that it can be judge, jury and executioner."

In the wake of the Padilla flip-flop, Adam Liptak explores the secret (or absent) standards the Bush administration uses to designate detainees as enemy combatants rather than criminal defendants. The prospect of indefinite detention as an enemy combatant is so frightening that it might induce someone in Padilla's shoes to plead guilty to a serious criminal charge with the hope of remaining under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system.

"In the case of John Walker Lindh," said his lawyer, James J. Brosnahan, "there was a suggestion that even if we got an acquittal that he could be declared an unlawful combatant, that he could be a Padilla."

Indeed, the plea agreement Mr. Lindh signed contains an unusual provision. "For the rest of the defendant's natural life," it says, "should the government determine that the defendant has engaged in" one of more than a score of crimes of terrorism, "the United States may immediately invoke any right it has at that time to capture and detain the defendant as an unlawful enemy combatant."

Mr. Freiman said he, too, had been told that the government reserved the right to detain Mr. Padilla again should he be acquitted.

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  • Re: Judge, Jury, and Executioner Rumsfeld (none / 0) (#1)
    by The Heretik on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:27 PM EST
    Rule by fiat went out sometime around the Age of Enlightenment, but you wouldn't know it with how the Bush Administration approaches this matter. Judge, jury, executioner indeed. Um, what happened to the separation of powers? More on this at 100% Wrong

    Re: Judge, Jury, and Executioner Rumsfeld (none / 0) (#2)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:27 PM EST
    IOW, if you don't plead guilty we'll kidnap you, ship you to secret torture centers and kill you. Nope, no coercion there.

    Re: Judge, Jury, and Executioner Rumsfeld (none / 0) (#3)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:27 PM EST
    "The term 'enemy combatant,' " according to a Defense Department order last year, includes anyone "part of or supporting Taliban or Al Qaeda forces or associated forces."

    In a hearing in December in a case brought by detainees imprisoned in the naval facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a judge questioned a Justice Department official about the limits of that definition. The official, Brian D. Boyle, said the hostilities in question were global and might continue for generations.

    The judge, Joyce Hens Green of the Federal District Court in Washington, asked a series of hypothetical questions about who might be detained as an enemy combatant under the government's definition.

    What about "a little old lady in Switzerland who writes checks to what she thinks is a charitable organization that helps orphans in Afghanistan but really is a front to finance Al Qaeda activities?" she asked.

    And what about a resident of Dublin "who teaches English to the son of a person the C.I.A. knows to be a member of Al Qaeda?"

    And "what about a Wall Street Journal reporter, working in Afghanistan, who knows the exact location of Osama bin Laden but does not reveal it to the United States government in order to protect her source?"

    Mr. Boyle said the military had the power to detain all three people as enemy combatants.

    Re: Judge, Jury, and Executioner Rumsfeld (none / 0) (#4)
    by soccerdad on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:27 PM EST
    Rule by fiat went out sometime around the Age of Enlightenment
    The Enlightenment has been canceled, the Inquisition starts next week.