Although I think Bora is being overly alarmist when he declares that we are now officially living in a fascist state, that doesn’t mean that I don’t find the passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which authorizes military tribunals for “enemy combatants,” a category that, given the murky language of the act, is not clearly limited to noncitizens, to be a deeply disturbing turn of events. What I find the most strange about the whole exercise is how little Republicans seem to have thought this whole law through. Do they realize what they’ve done? Sure, they trust President Bush to exercise this new power wisely, but he is only going to be in office for two more years, with no guarantee of a Republican President to follow him. In their eagerness to pass this, apparently they never asked themselves: Would they trust a future President, say a future President Clinton with this power?
Personally, I do not trust President Bush, a future President Hillary Clinton, or any other President with the power to label people an “enemy combatants” and throw them in jail in essence indefinitely. It clearly goes past the line of powers that the President should be given, even in a time of war. It’s not unlike what I discussed earlier today regarding laws in Germany against Nazi symbols. This administration may not use this law much; the next administration may not use it much; but some administration in the future will be tempted to push this law to the limit. The longer this law is on the books, the more likely it is that some future President will use it in a big way, particularly if the U.S. suffers another major terrorist attack. So, even though the piece I linked to above is clearly meant to be an exaggeration designed to make a point, I think it still makes a valid point through hyperbole.
ADDENDUM: Abel sent me a link that suggests some of the concerns about this law are overblown. Certainly, I always thought that the “we’re in a fascist state now” crowd was succumbing to hysteria over this, but even so I still find the bill troubling.
The Tragedy of the Detainee Treatment Act
Imagine Giving Donald Rumsfeld Unbounded Discretion to Detain You Indefinitely (there’s a lot of interesting stuff in the comments, and apparently a key section was altered to say “alien unlawful combatants” before passage–a close call.)