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Would the right trust President Clinton with the power given to Bush last week?

Although I think Bora is being overly alarmist when he declares that we are now officially living in a fascist state, that doesn’t mean that I don’t find the passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which authorizes military tribunals for “enemy combatants,” a category that, given the murky language of the act, is not clearly limited to noncitizens, to be a deeply disturbing turn of events. What I find the most strange about the whole exercise is how little Republicans seem to have thought this whole law through. Do they realize what they’ve done? Sure, they trust President Bush to exercise this new power wisely, but he is only going to be in office for two more years, with no guarantee of a Republican President to follow him. In their eagerness to pass this, apparently they never asked themselves: Would they trust a future President, say a future President Clinton with this power?

Personally, I do not trust President Bush, a future President Hillary Clinton, or any other President with the power to label people an “enemy combatants” and throw them in jail in essence indefinitely. It clearly goes past the line of powers that the President should be given, even in a time of war. It’s not unlike what I discussed earlier today regarding laws in Germany against Nazi symbols. This administration may not use this law much; the next administration may not use it much; but some administration in the future will be tempted to push this law to the limit. The longer this law is on the books, the more likely it is that some future President will use it in a big way, particularly if the U.S. suffers another major terrorist attack. So, even though the piece I linked to above is clearly meant to be an exaggeration designed to make a point, I think it still makes a valid point through hyperbole.

ADDENDUM: Abel sent me a link that suggests some of the concerns about this law are overblown. Certainly, I always thought that the “we’re in a fascist state now” crowd was succumbing to hysteria over this, but even so I still find the bill troubling.

More here:

The Tragedy of the Detainee Treatment Act
Imagine Giving Donald Rumsfeld Unbounded Discretion to Detain You Indefinitely (there’s a lot of interesting stuff in the comments, and apparently a key section was altered to say “alien unlawful combatants” before passage–a close call.)

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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