A Bad Detainee Bill Gets Worse
Fearful of being labeled "soft on terror," Senate Democrats continue to be timid in their opposition to the president's plan to give detainees sham trials before military tribunals. They need to wake up. Recent Republican changes in the bill endanger the rights of everyone.
The current definition of "enemy combatant," to whom the law would apply, broadens its reach from those who "engaged in hostilities against the United States" to those who "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." Material support is a vague concept that can be, and has been, applied to lawyers and interpreters assisting clients. Should lawyers who are United States citizens, acting within the boundaries of the United States and plainly protected by the Constitution, be subjected to trials before a military tribunal rather than a criminal court?
Another change undermines the meager progress that Republicans made to improve the bill. To avoid trials based on secret evidence, the bill gave suspects the right to "examine and respond to" the evidence. The latest version drops the word "examine," leaving suspects with the useless right to respond to evidence they aren't permitted to see.
|< The Power of Citizens: Obama vs. Broder | Gov't. Expert: The 'Doogie Howser' of Terrorism >|