The Star Chamber, American-Style

August 2, 2006

According to today’s Washington Post:

A draft Bush administration plan for special military courts seeks to expand the reach and authority of such “commissions” to include trials, for the first time, of people who are not members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban and are not directly involved in acts of international terrorism, according to officials familiar with the proposal.

The plan, which would replace a military trial system ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June, would also allow the secretary of defense to add crimes at will to those under the military court’s jurisdiction. The two provisions would be likely to put more individuals than previously expected before military juries, officials and independent experts said.

So what’s the problem?  Won’t this make Americans safer?  Well, maybe if “safer” means living in a state of terror imposed by our own government rather than by foreign terrorists:

Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors.

Detainees would also not be guaranteed the right to be present at their own trials, if their absence is deemed necessary to protect national security or individuals.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the police state has already arrived in America.  The question before We, the People is not whether we will allow it to come, but how long will we tolerate its presence in our midst.