When does an alleged military hero turned Senator become a serious threat to the country he served? When he introduces a bill (PDF) titled “Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010” that if passed, would change this country from a “Democracy” to a military dictatorship.
I’ve been putting this off, thinking that because of its insanity, there was no way this could possibly happen, but as the past decade has shown, anything illegal can become de facto when a blatantly corrupt Congress screws the country it allegedly serves.
It seems Senator John McCain has gone off the deep end. On March 4, McCain and Senator Joe Lieberman introduced the 12-page bill that leaves plenty of room to give the President the power to order the arrest, interrogation, and imprisonment of anyone, including U.S. citizens, indefinitely — simply because they suspect that he or she is affiliated with terrorism. It’s long past time for Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman to be removed from politics once and for all.
Would that apply to the members of Congress that have allowed criminal Presidential administrations to destroy America’s civil rights and liberties? After all, Congress has been responsible for enabling — not to mention aiding and abetting — the terrorist actions of the past two Presidential administrations.
You Could be Held at Their Discretion For as Long as They Want to Hold You
As noted by AlterNet, the Act begins with the following (convoluted) 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.”
That means that if a person is caught, anywhere in the world at any time, who may or may not have done something suggesting that he or she is a terrorist — including suspicion of supporting a terrorist organization against the U.S. or its allies — he or she must be imprisoned by the military.
A section — Detention Without Trial of Unprivileged Enemy Belligerents — of the proposed bill states that suspects “may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” In other words, you could be held at their discretion for as long as they want to hold you.
Glenn Greenwald from Salon News says the bill is “probably the single most extremist, tyrannical and dangerous bill introduced in the Senate in the last several decaces, far beyond the horrific, habeas-abolishing Military Commissions Act — which was voted against by then-Senator Obama. Since becoming President, however, Obama has switched gears and helped pave the way for radical legislation like this one.
‘Underprivileged Enemy Belligerent’ Replaced ‘Alien Enemy Combatant’
President Obama signed a Military Commissions Act of his own, tied to part of the 2010 Defense Authorization Bill. Allegedly designed to overhaul President Bush’s military commissions, the bill introduced the term Underprivileged Enemy Belligerent — one who has engaged in hostilities against the U.S. or its coalition partners and purposely or materially supported hostilities against the U.S. or its coalition partners. Underprivileged Enemy Belligerent replaced the term ‘alien enemy combatant’ but Obama held onto the claim of having the authority to hold terror suspects indefinitely. The words have changed to expanse a definition of ‘terrorism,’ but the government’s actions remain the same.
It’s rather ironic to hear politicians, especially McCain and Lieberman, talk about Underprivileged Enemy Belligerents being war criminals. Lieberman told reporters that “these are not common criminals. They are war criminals” at a press conference with McCain. Given their past aggressions against U.S. citizens, they would know….
The ‘terror’ suspects will have no rights under this law — as also noted by AlterNet — as the attack on Miranda rights is inscribed into McCain’s Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010:
“A individual who is suspected of being an unprivileged enemy belligerent shall not, during interrogation under this subsection, be provided the statement required by Miranda v. Arizona … or otherwise be informed of any rights that the individual may or may not have to counsel or to remain silent consistent with Miranda v. Arizona.”
Bill Would Give President the Power to Determine Who is and Who isn’t a Terrorist
McCain’s bill gives the U.S. president dangerous powers to determine who is and who is not a terrorist. Under the bill, a ‘high-value detainee interrogation group’ comprised of Executive Branch experts ‘in matters relating to national security, terrorism, intelligence, interrogations, or law enforcement as the President considers appropriate’ would be established by the president. As we learned this past decade, ‘experts’ are nothing more than a terrifying joke used to corrupt the ‘justice’ system. Nothing has changed since Obama took office.
The group would make a ‘preliminary determination whether or not the detainee is an unprivileged enemy belligerent… based on the result of its interrogation of the individual and all the intelligence information available to the interrogation group.’ Their findings would then go to the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General, who would then ‘jointly submit to the President and to the appropriate committees of Congress a final determination whether or not the detainee is an unprivileged enemy belligerent.’
Should the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General disagree, the President would make the final determination. All that has to happen no more than 48 hours after being put in military custody.
McCain’s legislation is still sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which may explain why more people aren’t pissed off enough to do anything about it yet.
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder wrote that ‘a close reading of the bill suggests it would allow the U.S. military to detain U.S. citizens without trial indefinitely in the U.S. based on suspected activity.’ How many more attempts have to be made to turn an alleged Democracy into a military dictatorship before ‘we the people’ do something about it?