July 25, 2008

Dictatorial Powers for the US President

Andy Worthington (author of "The Guantánamo Files"), has written a good review of the recent US 4th Circuit Court decision against Ali Al-Marri, a Qatari national and legal resident in the US.

This decision has upheld an indefinite military detention, as an "enemy combatant", of a person that has never raised arms against the US. It gives the US president the authority to designate just about anybody as an "enemy combatant" on the basis of hearsay "evidence" of assumed intentions.

Mr. Worthington finishes with a strong quote from the verdict's minority opinion:
I leave the final words to Judge Motz, and her clear-eyed awareness of the injustice of the al-Marri verdict. “To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians, even if the President call them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution –- and the country,” Judge Motz wrote. “For a court to uphold a claim to such extraordinary power would do more than render lifeless the Suspension Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the rights to criminal process in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments; it would effectively undermine all of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. It is that power — were a court to recognize it — that could lead all our laws ‘to go unexecuted, and the government itself to go to pieces.’ We refuse to recognize a claim to power that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our Republic.”

Unless Ali al-Marri is allowed a meaningful review of his status as an “enemy combatant,” Judge Motz’s fears have already come true.

No comments: