Against W

The US broadsheets are coming out strongly against W’s new thinking. Good for them. From the editorial columns of 16 November:

The Washington Post: “End-Running the Bill of Rights

“Any non-citizen whom the president deems to be a member of al Qaeda, or to be engaged in international terrorism of virtually any kind, or even to be harboring such people, can be detained indefinitely under his order and tried. The trials could take place using largely secret evidence…

“Such a process is only a hair’s breadth from a policy of summary justice. The potential to imprison or execute many innocent people is large, the chances that such mistakes would become known much smaller…

“When Americans accused of terrorism are tried in secret courts by hooded judges in Peru or other nations, the U.S. government rightly objects. To authorize comparable trials in this country will erase any legitimacy of such objections…. And worse in turn than the blow to the U.S. image abroad will be the potentially irreversible injury at home if Mr. Bush proceeds, as his order would allow, to undermine the rule of law.”

The New York Times: “A Travesty of Justice

“President Bush’s plan to use secret military tribunals to try terrorists is a dangerous idea, made even worse by the fact that it is so superficially attractive…

The administration’s action is the latest in a troubling series of attempts since Sept. 11 to do an end run around the Constitution. It comes on the heels of an announcement that the Justice Department intends to wiretap conversations between some prisoners and their lawyers. The administration also continues to hold hundreds of detainees without revealing their identities, the charges being brought against them or even the reasons for such secrecy…

“With the flick of a pen, in this case, Mr. Bush has essentially discarded the rulebook of American justice painstakingly assembled over the course of more than two centuries. In the place of fair trials and due process he has substituted a crude and unaccountable system that any dictator would admire…”

Thanks to Naunihal for sending these my way. He comments: “Note that the rights afforded to a prisoner of war will also be violated. This is a more damning indictment in my eyes since they get neither the protections usually given to residents, nor those given to an enemy, even though the pretext for the trial is that they are enemy agents in a war that we have not yet properly declared. Then again, the other European countries have passed restrictions far more draconian than this already.”

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