Thursday, August 03, 2006

Let me know when it's OK to call it a police state

In response to recent court rulings saying the President has no authority to try terrorism suspects in military tribunals, the Bush Administration, at their Orwellian best, propose as a solution to the "impasse" to try everybody in military tribunals. In order to address concerns that executive branch is reaching for far too much secret, unchecked power over citizens and foreigners alike they have proposed to leave it up to the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to decide who is protected by the US Constitution and who is not. Oh, sure, I suppose that makes everything all better.

I'm not kidding:

White House Proposal Would Expand Authority of Military Courts

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
; Page A04

A draft Bush administration plan for special military courts seeks to expand the reach and authority of such "commissions" to include trials, for the first time, of people who are not members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban and are not directly involved in acts of international terrorism, according to officials familiar with the proposal.

The plan, which would replace a military trial system ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June, would also allow the secretary of defense to add crimes at will to those under the military court's jurisdiction. The two provisions would be likely to put more individuals than previously expected before military juries, officials and independent experts said.

The draft proposed legislation, set to be discussed at two Senate hearings today, is controversial inside and outside the administration because defendants would be denied many protections guaranteed by the civilian and traditional military criminal justice systems.

Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors.

Detainees would also not be guaranteed the right to be present at their own trials, if their absence is deemed necessary to protect national security or individuals...

That's right, boys and girls. Evidence gained by torture could be deemed admissible in a court of law in the United States of America just so long as Don Rumsfeld says it's OK. If the White House proposal becomes law, you could be tried in abstentia, without representation, on secret evidence obtained through torture for any alledged crime as long as Donnie Rumz decides to put it in his little black book of exceptions to the constitution (updated at his whim). Your government, the federal government of the United States of America -- "land of free, home of the brave" -- is actually considering such a thing, not just for "terrorists" but potentially for anyone.

Still think it's about protecting us? Ask yourself who protects us from them?