4th Circuit Court Rules President Can Indefinitely Detain U.S. Citizens

The New York Times reports the decision of a federal appeals court on the government’s right to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens:

President Bush has the legal power to order the indefinite military detentions of civilians captured in the United States, the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled on Tuesday in a fractured 5-to-4 decision.

But a second, overlapping 5-to-4 majority of the court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, ruled that Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar now in military custody in Charleston, S.C., must be given an additional opportunity to challenge his detention in federal court there. An earlier court proceeding, in which the government had presented only a sworn statement from a defense intelligence official, was inadequate, the second majority ruled.

The decision was a victory for the Bush administration, which had maintained that a 2001 Congressional authorization to use military force after the Sept. 11 attacks granted the president the power to detain people living in the United States.

The court effectively reversed a divided three-judge panel of its own members, which ruled last year that the government lacked the power to detain civilians legally in the United States as enemy combatants. That panel ordered the government either to charge Mr. Marri or to release him. The case is likely to reach the Supreme Court.

Over at my other blogging home, I referred to the United States as an “incipient fascist state.”

That first adjective is no longer accurate — if it even was at the time I used it. There is no clearer hallmark of a fascist state than the state’s power to hold its own citizens at will, in perpetuity.

Michael Stickings:

Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good, but, in this case, or, rather, with these cases, the bad, which is truly awful, far outweighs the good, a qualified good at most.

George W. Bush and his administration of Constitution-shredding warmongers are, as you should know, turning the United States into a police state. How they are doing this has been a matter of great discussion among critics of what they have done: domestic surveillance, extra-legal detentions, the consolidation of executive power over the legislative and the judicial, the creation and exploitation of a culture of fear, the vilification of the Other, etc.

I would only take issue with Michael’s qualifying word “turning.” I think this is a police state now, fully blown. That any of us can still walk around freely, or speak freely, is simply because they haven’t gotten to us yet. They can, though, at any time — today’s ruling makes that clear.

Jeralyn has more details and facts. I note this part in particular:

TalkLeft reader and commenter Scribe points out in an e-mail to me footnote 14 on page 27:

At oral argument before the en banc court, however, the Government finally acknowledged that an alien legally resident in the United States, like al-Marri, has the same Fifth Amendment due process rights as an American citizen. For this reason, the Government had to concede that if al-Marri can be detained as an enemy combatant, then the Government can also detain any American citizen on the same showing and through the same process.

Scribe adds, in Comments:

The chilling part from the footnote is that the admission by the government noted in it, cuts two ways.

The one is obvious:  they have to give al-Marri the same due process they give a citizen.

The other is nefarious:  If they can, within the law as defined by the Circuit, hold al-Marri in military custody on such slim pickings of torture-derived evidence, then they can do it to any citizen, too.

Via Meme.

One Response to “4th Circuit Court Rules President Can Indefinitely Detain U.S. Citizens”

  1. Chief says:

    Bay Islands, Honduras ? ?

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