Bush: concentration camps for all!


Richard Moore

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Bush submits new terror detainee bill
By Anne Plummer Flaherty, Associated Press Writer  |  July 28, 2006

WASHINGTON --U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained 
indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation 
proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early 
version of the bill.

A 32-page draft measure is intended to authorize the Pentagon's tribunal system,
established shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks to detain and prosecute 
detainees captured in the war on terror. The tribunal system was thrown out last
month by the Supreme Court.

Administration officials, who declined to comment on the draft, said the 
proposal was still under discussion and no final decisions had been made.

Senior officials are expected to discuss a final proposal before the Senate 
Armed Services Committee next Wednesday.

According to the draft, the military would be allowed to detain all "enemy 
combatants" until hostilities cease. The bill defines enemy combatants as anyone
"engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners who 
has committed an act that violates the law of war and this statute."

Legal experts said Friday that such language is dangerously broad and could 
authorize the military to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens who had only tenuous
ties to terror networks like al Qaeda.

"That's the big question ... the definition of who can be detained," said Martin
Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown University who posted a copy of the bill
to a Web blog.

Scott L. Silliman, a retired Air Force Judge Advocate, said the broad definition
of enemy combatants is alarming because a U.S. citizen loosely suspected of 
terror ties would lose access to a civilian court -- and all the rights that 
come with it. Administration officials have said they want to establish a secret
court to try enemy combatants that factor in realities of the battlefield and 
would protect classified information.

The administration's proposal, as considered at one point during discussions, 
would toss out several legal rights common in civilian and military courts, 
including barring hearsay evidence, guaranteeing "speedy trials" and granting a 
defendant access to evidence. The proposal also would allow defendants to be 
barred from their own trial and likely allow the submission of coerced 

Senior Republican lawmakers have said they were briefed on the general 
discussions and have some concerns but are awaiting a final proposal before 
commenting on specifics.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England 
are expected to discuss the proposal in an open hearing next Wednesday before 
the Senate Armed Services Committee. Military lawyers also are scheduled to 
testify Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The legislation is the administration's response to a June 29 Supreme Court 
decision, which concluded the Pentagon could not prosecute military detainees 
using secret tribunals established soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist 
attacks. The court ruled the tribunals were not authorized by law and violated 
treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which established many 
international laws for warfare.

The landmark court decision countered long-held assertions by the Bush 
administration that the president did not need permission from Congress to 
prosecute "enemy combatants" captured in the war on terror and that al Qaeda 
members were not subject to Geneva Convention protections because of their 
unconventional status.

"In a time of ongoing armed conflict, it is neither practicable nor appropriate 
for enemy combatants like al Qaeda terrorists to be tried like American citizens
in federal courts or courts-martial," the proposal states.

The draft proposal contends that an existing law -- passed by the Senate last 
year after exhaustive negotiations between the White House and Sen. John McCain,
R-Ariz. -- that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment should "fully 
satisfy" the nation's obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said 
Friday he expects to take up the detainee legislation in September.

© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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