The Real Skinny on the MCA

Posted: November 12th, 2006 by Militant Libertarian

Alex Jones and Paul Watson have put together a few quotes by legal scholars which confirm what we already knew about the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Still, the quotes are useful in dispelling disinformation from the right-wing talk radio types…

Top legal experts and scholars are nearly unanimous that the Military Commissions Act does affect American citizens.

Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman states in the L.A. Times, “The compromise legislation….authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.”

Similarly, law Professor Marty Lederman explains: “this [subsection (ii) of the definition of ‘unlawful enemy combatant’] means that if the Pentagon says you’re an unlawful enemy combatant — using whatever criteria they wish — then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to ‘hostilities’ at all.”

Professor Jonathan Turley, who teaches constitutional law at George Washington University, agrees that the bill contains no provision in which American citizens are exempt from the intent of the legislation, and outlined this during a recent appearance on Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show.

OLBERMANN: “I want to start by asking you about a specific part of this act that lists one of the definitions of an unlawful enemy combatant as, quote, ‘a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a combatant status review tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the
president or the secretary of defense.’

“Does that not basically mean that if Mr. Bush or Mr. Rumsfeld say so, anybody in this country, citizen or not, innocent or not, can end up being an unlawful enemy combatant?”

JONATHAN TURLEY: “It certainly does. In fact, later on, it says that if you even give material support to an organization that the president deems connected to one of these groups, you too can be an enemy combatant. And the fact that he appoints this tribunal is meaningless. You know, standing behind him at the signing ceremony was his attorney general, who signed a memo that said that you could torture people,
that you could do harm to them to the point of organ failure or death. So if he appoints someone like that to be attorney general, you can imagine who he’s going be putting on this board.”

OLBERMANN: “Does this mean that under this law, ultimately the only thing keeping you, I, or the viewer out of Gitmo is the sanity and honesty of the president of the United States?”

TURLEY: “It does. And it’s a huge sea change for our democracy. The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president. In fact, Madison said that he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could not do harm, because we didn’t rely on their good motivations. Now we must. And people have no idea how significant this is. What, really, a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did and
what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.”

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