If the government can classify a citizen like Jose Padilla as an "Enemy Combatant"

what prevents them from doing that to anyone? Thus, we can imagine a future administration classifying a harsh critic of his/her administration like Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern as an enemy combatant, and holding them without trial for an indefinite period of time without trial. Am, I missing something are there safe guards in play that would prevent this from occuring? I am a conservative Republican (Libertarian really, but since they have no chance I vote Republican) and I find this to be radically disturbing.

These are precisely the questions the Supreme Court is struggling with right now. Here is a CNN article about the case.

Nothing prevents them from doing so. That’s the problem. Didn’t the Soviet Union do stuff like this, where “Western Spies” were rounded up by the KGB and sent off to labor camps Siberia?

Fortunately, it seems that several of the Supreme Court justices are as disturbed about this as I am. hopefully, there are at least 5 of them.

The OP is damn hard to argue with.

The whole idea of the Bill Of Rights, I thought, was to prevent this sort of thing from happening to us. I thought that the whole point of invading Iraq (after we couldn’t find any WMDs there) was to bring this kind of democracy and respect for human rights to the folks there.

Near as I can tell, as far as the Bush Administration is concerned, human rights are only really applicable to American citizens. And not even then, if they really don’t like you.

Nevertheless, I must not use the word “nazi.” Someone will get offended.

I had a response all typed out when I realized that is was more suitable for GD than GQ. I will wait until this thread gets kicked over there, as it most certainly will.

This will be more of a debate than anything, so I’ll move this thread to GD.

moderator GQ

As I was saying…

I listened to some of the arguments by the Justice Department lawyers, and I find it amazing that their tongues didn’t burst into flame when they argued that the President must be allowed to take whatever measures he deems necessary to fight terrorism. That is the very definition of a totalitarian dictatorship, and the fact that this administration finds nothing unconstitutional about their actions is very troubling.

I am heartened that the court’s opinion is expected in July, so that Bush can be held accountable for this naked assault on the Bill of Rights. The Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law, not one set of laws for “good people” and another for “evil doers”.

The greatest threat of terrorism exists in the White House itself.

I don’t understand what the Bush administration expects to gain from this exercise. There is no way the SCotUS can uphold such unlimitted executive power for such an indefinite timeframe. I think O’Conner pointed out that the “war on terrorism” is likely to last 25 or 50 years, and that’s probably being generous. It’s unlikely ever to end! Bush is essentially arguing that he, and all presidents after him, can do whatever they damn well please. Uh-uh.

Well, their only other options was to ADMIT they’d acted wrongly and release Padilla and his cohort. And THAT certainly wasn’t going to happen. So they have to do what they can do defend their policies and see what happens.

IMHO, the Justice Department is without a leg to stand on. As long as the Civil Authority can operate (that is outside a state of insurrection), it is supreme.

The right wingers said that if I voted for Gore the government would start locking people up without benefit of lawyer or trial. Well they were right. I voted for Gore, and see what happened.

(From a joke Golwater supporters used about Vietnam.)

Seriously, how could any Libertarian or true conservative vote for Bush after this? This is the most fundamental thing that makes America what it is. This is a hell of a lot more threatening to our freedoms than anything a terrorist could do.

Here’s a link to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals most recent opinion in the case: Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. I would comment further, but the people who pay me want their stuff done first for some reason. What a hassle!

What legal authority does the Executive Branch possess in order to create the legal definition of an “enemy combatant?”

I cannot find such authority in this little document.

Huh? Don’t they also have the option of actually charging these guys with a crime? That hasn’t even been attempted yet, AFAIK.

The Bush administration finds it more convenient to rely on this little document:

Whoops–re: my post above, rather, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld is a related case, the primary difference being that Hamdi was a U.S. citizen captured in a war zone. Here’s Padilla v. Rumsfeld

The question I’ve yet to have adequately answered:

How can someone be a combatant if they are not captured in battle?


My understanding is that Padilla was, at first, just arrested as a citizen charged with a crime, and after it was determined that they didn’t have enough to win with they had him transferred as a military combatant. Even the judge didn’t have any notice that it was coming.

If this holds is there anything to stop Bush (or some future President) from having Kerry (or some other future opposition leader) held til further notice based on intelligence too sensitive to share with the courts?

What is frightening to me is how the Republicans will say that people who are protesting the war give aid and comfort to the enemy. If they believe that, why not lock them up? Why not just surround the democratic national convention and lock them up?

To me, the two cases aren’t the same. Hamidi was captured overseas with an AK-47 in his hand. IMHO (and IANAL) this means he’s a prisoner of war and subject to the Geneva Convention.

The second case, Jose Padilla, is much more troubling. He was an American citizen, arrested on American soil, without a weapon, without a crime being committed, with no physical evidence, merely on the fiat of the executive. I can’t imagine anything more unamerican or unconstitutional. Padilla is probably a terrorist (and I don’t know because the evidence against him is secret), but he was an American citizen siezed on American soil. The executive claims he has the power to do this and that the courts have no jurisdiction. If this stands, it will be the end of the Great Experiment. This amounts to dictatorial power. All we have from the president is an assurance that he won’t abuse that power. Washington, Jefferson, Adams–none of the Founding Fathers trusted themselves with this power.