December 16, 2011, 5:06 PM — News stories that came out today that describe graphically but unintentionally something really distasteful about how irrational we can be about things we fear, how harshly we feel the need to punish each other for being equals and how we imagine being nice about something irrelevant makes up for all our previous sins:
First: U.S. Military gets the right to indefinitely detain those it suspects of terrorism
The $1 trillion spending bill passed by the House today to keep the federal government from shutting down, included $662 billion to fund the U.S. military.
Contained within that appropriate bill are sections that give the U.S. military explicit permission to arrest terrorism suspects on U.S. soil and detain them indefinitely without trial, even if they are U.S. citizens or permanent legal resident aliens.
Supporters said the language:
- codifies current practice in military intelligence and counter-terrorism rather than introducing new permissions;
- that the rules only apply to suspected members of al Queda and the Taliban, not U.S. citizens, residents or those accused of other crimes;
- and that the danger from members of al Queda is so serious that laws established to deter or punish ordinary criminals are too weak to counter the threat.
- Opponents said the ruling:
- formalizes and even makes compulsory grossly unconstitutional policies established after the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks in New York;
- so clearly violates the spirit and most of the letters of the Constitution by allowing or requiring indefinite imprisonment that it makes into law a corruption of principle whose existence corrodes base of civil rights on which the rest of U.S. law is built;
- and that the language itself is problematic enough that nearly anyone could be accused of terrorism and locked up without the opportunity to defend themselves against the accusations.
"Detaining citizens without a court trial is not American," railed conservative Republican Senator Rand Paul, who describes himself as Libertarian.