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1 October 2006  |     mail this article   |     print   |  
Military Commissions Act of 2006
Extreme legislation sends out shockwaves
Increased power to U.S. government through secretive means
By Daan de Wit
Powerful reactions to the new terror bill that has been
approved by Congress and the Senate, last Thursday. The bill makes it possible for president Bush to arrest anybody anywhere, hold this person in custody for unlimited amounts of time and question him using torture. At the same time 'buried deep inside this legislation is a provision that will pardon President Bush and all the members of his administration of any possible crimes connected with the torture and mistreatment of detainees dated all the way back to September 11, 2001', says [video] Jack Cafferty from CNN.
[See also from 17 October, Keith Olbermann - The Day Habeas Corpus died].

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights sums it up in an interview on Democracy Now: '[...] what this bill authorizes is really the authority of an authoritarian despot to the president. I mean, what it gives him is the power, as the senator said, to detain any person anywhere in the world, citizen or non-citizen, whether living in the United States or anywhere else. [...] If you're a non-citizen, as the senator pointed out, you're completely finished. Picked up, legal permanent resident in the United States, detained forever, no writ of habeas corpus [habeas corpus allows prisoners to ask a judge to rule on the legality of their detention]. [...] So you have this ability to detain anyone anywhere in the world. You deny them the writ of habeas corpus. And when they're in detention, you have a right to do all kinds of coercive techniques on them: hooding, stripping, anything really the president says goes, short of what he defines as torture. And then, if you are lucky enough to be tried, and I say “lucky enough,” because, for example, the 460 people the Center represents at Guantanamo may never get trials. [...] They're just -- they've been there five years. Right now, under this legislation, they could be there forever.' The Nation writes: 'As more than 300 law professors wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders, the enemy-combatants debate is "an urgent test of our nation's constitutional and democratic values."'

Just before the bill was passed, The New York Times under the headline Rushing Off a Cliff, summed up seven of the major problems with this new legislation. These are the first two mentioned: 'Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted. The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there's no requirement that this list be published.'
The Washington Post writes: 'The House had already voted this week, 253-168, endorsing Bush's plan for military detainees. The Senate passed a nearly identical bill Thursday by a 65-34 vote. Rather than reconcile the technical differences between the two bills, the House voted 250-170 to send the Senate version to the president to sign. [...] Once Bush signs it, which he was expected to do very soon, the military can begin prosecuting terror suspects.' [From a later date: President Bush signed the  Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law on October 17]. 'Even some Republicans acknowledge that the new bill -- a compromise between the White House and leading Republicans such as Arizona Sen. John McCain -- may not fly with the Supreme Court', writes the Chicago Sun-Times.

Many laws officially bypassed by Bush
Earlier this year it became know that president Bush, 'far more than any predecessor, [...] has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military', wrote the Boston Globe. Here is how it works: 'Bush is the first president in modern history who has never vetoed a bill, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments. Instead, he has signed every bill that reached his desk, often inviting the legislation's sponsors to signing ceremonies at which he lavishes praise upon their work. Then, after the media and the lawmakers have left the White House, Bush quietly files ''signing statements" -- official documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law. The statements are recorded in the federal register. In his signing statements, Bush has repeatedly asserted that the Constitution gives him the right to ignore numerous sections of the bills -- sometimes including provisions that were the subject of negotiations with Congress in order to get lawmakers to pass the bill. He has appended such statements to more than one of every 10 bills he has signed. [...] David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive-power issues, said Bush has cast a cloud over ''the whole idea that there is a rule of law," because no one can be certain of which laws Bush thinks are valid and which he thinks he can ignore.'

Shadow government is creating trilateral bureaucracy
In secret 'the Bush administration is running a "shadow government" with Mexico and Canada in which the U.S. is crafting a broad range of policy in conjunction with its neighbors to the north and south', writes Jerome Corsi, co-author of Unfit for Command, a book featuring the Swift Boat Veterans who were part of a neoconservative attack on John Kerry. Kerry and Bush are both members of the secret society Skull & Bones. Goal of the so-called 'shadow government' is 'creating a 'shadow' trilateral bureaucracy with Mexico and Canada that is aggressively rewriting a wide range of U.S. administrative law, all without congressional oversight or public disclosure. Judicial Watch headlines: 'U.S. Government Working Groups & Business Leaders Seek to “Harmonize” Regulations with Canada and Mexico' and writes: 'Critics maintain the partnership will sacrifice U.S. sovereignty by establishing a “North American Union,” with open borders and a common currency.' Corsi: 'The Bush administration is trying to create the infrastructure of a new regional North American government in stealth fashion, under the radar and out of public view. [...] What we have here amounts to an administrative coup d'etat. Where does the Bush administration get the congressional authorization to invite two foreign nations to the table to rewrite U.S. law?' InfoWars does not mince words and writes: 'The open plan to merge the US with Mexico and Canada and create a Pan American Union networked by a NAFTA Super Highway has long been a Globalist brainchild but its very real and prescient implementation on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations has finally been reported on by mainstream news outlets.'

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