Dec 17, 2011

Does the new defense bill apply to American citizens?

I said it did earlier, but Adam Serwer at Mother Jones says it doesn't:
So it's simply not true, as the Guardian wrote yesterday, that the the bill "allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay." When the New York Times editorial page writes that the bill would "strip the F.B.I., federal prosecutors and federal courts of all or most of their power to arrest and prosecute terrorists and hand it off to the military," or that the "legislation could also give future presidents the authority to throw American citizens into prison for life without charges or a trial," they're simply wrong.
Glenn Greenwald disagrees:
Myth #3: U.S. citizens are exempted from this new bill

This is simply false, at least when expressed so definitively and without caveats. The bill is purposely muddled on this issue which is what is enabling the falsehood.
He goes on at length. Obviously, I'm quite unqualified to judge who is right, though Greenwald does provide a lot more detail. More broadly, the question of truth in law these days seems mostly a partisan football. Regardless of who is right between Serwer and Greenwald, any president could find a Jon Yoo-style lapdog to give his professional opinion that the statue says whatever he commands it to say.

If the President has the power to assassinate American citizens on his word alone, locking them up forever doesn't seem like much of a stretch.

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