July 21, 2003

"Naked Power, Arbitrary Rule"

Continuing the theme of the last post, allow me to present Prof. Jonathan Turley, denouncing military tribunals as the thin edge arbitrary rule:

Given the fact that only six people are designated for tribunals and no more than 12 will reportedly be tried, the question is why the administration would incur such costs for so little benefit.

The answer has nothing to do with national security or any of these men.

Long before 9/11, many officials in the administration advocated the expansion of presidential powers --- views that were often rejected as extreme and dangerous. With the attacks, these same officials saw the opportunity to re-create the presidency in a new and more autocratic image. By basing the tribunals on the "war against terrorism," the administration would create precedent that would effectively allow a president to assert such extreme powers at any time.

Like "wars" against illiteracy or drugs, the war against terrorism is merely an announced policy of the administration. Thus, if the tribunals are allowed, any president can simply declare a new threat as a justification to hold people indefinitely as enemy combatants or use their own court system for executions.

I'd never heard of Turley before, but I'm glad to find someone saying this. (Also, how can you help but like someone who lists, among the highlights of his legal career, "representation of the Area 51 workers at a secret air base in Nevada"?)

The Continuing Crisis

Posted at July 21, 2003 22:53 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth