Didn't we fight a war for independence from Britain over this sort of thing?
The White House is considering endorsing a law that would allow the indefinite detention of some alleged terrorists without trial as part of efforts to break a logjam with Congress over President Barack Obama’s plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday.
Last summer, White House officials said they had ruled out seeking a “preventive detention” statute as a way to deal with anti-terror detainees, saying the administration would hold any Guantanamo prisoners brought to the U.S. in criminal courts or under the general “law of war” principles permitting detention of enemy combatants.
However, speaking at a news conference in Greenville, S.C., Monday, Graham said the White House now seems open to a new law to lay out the standards for open-ended imprisonment of those alleged to be members of or fighters for Al Qaeda or the Taliban.
That would be life imprisonment without benefit of trial, either by civil jury, by judge, or even a court-martial.
Of course, the Constitution, as I once read it, would seem to prohibit such a thing. The idea that the executive branch, with congressional approval, could declare any criminal conspiracy or subversive organization the proponent of war or rebellion, and detain alleged members without trial, forever, seems to cut against the grain of the Fifth Amendment's guaranty that liberty shall not be taken without due process of law, or the Sixth Amendment's protection of the right to a speedy trial before a jury in criminal prosecution.
Oh, silly framers! You forgot to define "due process of law"! You forgot to define "criminal prosecution"! You just assumed people would know what those terms meant. Well, the Constitution is a "living, breathing document," with "emanations" and "penumbras".
If those emanations and penumbras can live and breathe out things like a natural right to abort a baby, they can certainly squirt out botched abortions like "preventive administrative detention," now can't they?
Mind you, I hold no brief for Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. I'll cheer as hard when he dances with the Big Needle as I did for Timothy McVeigh. After he's convicted in a court of law.
And also mind you, Lindsey Graham is a bloviating asshat who takes a prurient interest in the sex lives of political opponents. He could be bloviating out of his ass now. But I doubt it. Obama's been dangling this turd since last May.
I didn't vote for Obama, or McCain for that matter. But one of the things that I admired in Obama's campaign rhetoric was the promise to return to a rule of law, to adhere to little footnotey-type thoughts like those expressed in the dissent by Justices Scalia and Stevens in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld:
It is difficult to imagine situations in which security is so seriously threatened as to justify indefinite imprisonment without trial, and yet the constitutional conditions of rebellion or invasion are not met.
Oh well, what's a little essential liberty, when the mid-term elections are approaching?