George W. Bush has repeatedly warned, “Either you’re with us or you stand with the terrorists.” Now he has gotten through legislation that allows him to back it up. On Thursday, September 28, 2006, in a hastily drawn decision that will likely live in infamy, the Senate nodded assent to the Military Commissions Act (PDF).
According to this Act, an “unlawful enemy combatant” is to be defined as: “an individual engaged in hostilities against the United States who is not a lawful enemy combatant.”
This basically means that if a person is not a soldier in the service of a foreign government, but is nevertheless engaging in “hostilities” against the United States, then this person is an unlawful enemy combatant. Notice that this definition does not require that such a person be an “alien,” which accordingly leaves open the possibility that this designation could also be applied to an American citizen.
According to the definition approved by the Senate, you don’t even have to be part of a terrorist organization. Nor does your “hostile” act have to be done to aid such a force; nor do you have to have supported such acts. Nor do you have to be in violation of the “law of war.” Nor is there anywhere in the act where the term “hostilities” has itself been defined. For example, is an anti-war activist an unlawful enemy combatant? What about an American journalist who publishes leaked information damaging to the Bush administration? What about an anti-Bush blogger? In short, the definition is broad (and vague) enough to include any American citizen who is acting in a way the President deems “hostile” to the United States. As such, it is difficult to imagine a single piece of legislation with greater potential to undermine freedom and democracy in America. (emphasis added)
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