As we noted in our 2008 Voter Guide, then-candidate Barack Obama had taken the position that terrorist “enemy combatants” should in fact be treated more like “alleged criminals.” This position is now being followed by actions such as the FBI reading a list of rights to enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan and Obama’s Assistant Attorney General testifying to a U.S. Senate committee that captured terrorists have many of the same constitutional rights as those afforded to American citizens.
As Senator Joseph Lieberman noted in the story below, the Obama administration position means captured terrorists will have more rights than uniformed prisoners of war had in any prior conflict we’ve been involved in. Thus, an Islamic terrorist, who fights under no country’s flag, does not wear a uniform, and targets civilians, will have more rights than a uniformed German soldier arrested on the battlefield in World War II.
Ideas do have consequences. And the consequences of affording such constitutional rights to terrorist enemy combatants are not only dangerous, not only unprecedented — they are absurd.
Obama's Assistant Attorney General Tells Senate: Terrorists Captured on Battlefield Have Constitutional Rights
[This sums up what many have been saying since before the election that Mr. Obama and team know nothing about security while they know much about how to get elected. "We have sent a boy to do a man's job." - Editor]
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
By Penny Starr, Senior Staff Writer
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)
(CNSNews.com) – At a Senate hearing Tuesday on the use of military commissions to prosecute terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay, some members of the Armed Services Committee took offense at the Obama administration’s view that the detainees should have the same legal protections under the Constitution as U.S. citizens.
Ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) questioned Assistant Attorney General David Kris about his remarks on the appropriateness of administering the Miranda warning to terrorist suspects captured abroad. "It is the administration's view that there is a serious risk that courts would hold that admission of involuntary statements of the accused in military commission proceedings is unconstitutional," Kris said in his opening statement.
“Does that infer that these individuals have constitutional rights?” McCain asked Kris.
“Ah, yes,” Kris answered.
“What are those constitutional rights of people who are not citizens of the United States of America, who were captured on a battlefield committing acts of war against the United States?” McCain asked.
“Our analysis, Senator, is that the due process clause applies to military commissions and imposes a constitutional floor on the procedures that the government sets on such commissions …” Kris said.
“So you are saying that these people who are at Guantanamo, who were part of 9/11, who committed acts of war against the United States, have constitutional rights under the Constitution of the United States of America?” McCain asked.
“Within the framework I just described, the answer is yes, the due process clause guarantees and imposes some requirements on the conduct of (military) commissions,” Kris said.
“The fact is they are entitled to protections under the Geneva Convention, which apply to the rules of war,” McCain said. “I do not know of a time in American history where enemy combatants were given rights under the United States Constitution.”
Jeh C. Johnson, general counsel, Department of Defense (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)
Kris and Jeh C. Johnson, general counsel for the Department of Defense, said that military commissions were a viable “alternative” but that prosecuting terror suspects as criminals in U.S. federal courts was preferable – a position Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) took issue with at the hearing.
“Why would anyone prefer to try people apprehended for violations of the law of war?” Lieberman asked. “The fact is that from the beginning of our country, from the Revolutionary War, we’ve used military tribunals to try war criminals, or people we have apprehended, captured for violations of the law of war.
“Again, I think the unique circumstances of this war on terrorists, against the people who attacked us on 9/11, have taken us down, including the Supreme Court, some roads that are not only to me ultimately unjust but inconsistent with the long history of military commissions,” Lieberman said.
“Why would you say the administration prefers to bring before our federal court system instead of military commissions that are really today’s version of the tribunals that we’ve used throughout our history to deal in a just way with prisoners of war?” Lieberman asked.
“I applaud this committee’s initiative to reform the military commission act. I think the military commission should be a viable ready alternative for national security reasons to deal with those who violate the laws of war, and I’m glad we’re having this discussion right now, and I thank the committee,” Johnson said.
“When you’re dealing with terrorists whose, and I’m going to say this on behalf of the administration, one of their fundamental aims is to kill innocent civilians, and so it is the administration’s view that direct violence on innocent civilians, let’s say in the continental United States, it might be appropriate that that person be brought to justice in a civilian public forum in the continental United States,” Johnson said.
“Because the act of violence that was committed here was a violation of Title 18 (federal criminal law), as well as the law of war, so we feel strongly that both alternatives should exist,” Johnson added.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)
“Well, I respectfully disagree,” Lieberman said. “These are people we believe are war criminals; that’s why we captured them. The greater legal protections of the terrorists because they have chosen to do something that pretty much has not been done before in our history to attack Americans, to kill people here in America, as they did on 9/11, civilians, innocents, it doesn’t matter, and to do it outside of uniform.
“So it puts us in a very odd position, giving these terrorists greater protections in our federal courts than we’ve given war criminals in any other time throughout our history, even though, in my opinion, they are at least as brutal and inhumane, probably more brutal and inhumane than any war criminals,” Lieberman said.
“Yes, it might also be an act of murder that killed people who were in the Trade Towers on 9/11, but it was an act of war,” Lieberman said. “And the people who did that do not deserve the same constitutional protections of those accused of murder in New York City.”
The hearing focused on the military commissions portion of the National Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2010, which includes changes to the Military Commission Act of 2006.
Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) summarized the changes in his opening statement.
“Of great importance, the provision in our bill would reverse the existing presumption in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that rules and procedures applicable to trials by courts martial would not apply,” Levin said.
“Our new language says, by contrast, that ‘Except as otherwise provided ... the procedures and rules of evidence applicable in trials by general courts-martial of the United States shall apply in trials by military commission under this chapter.’ The exceptions to this rule are, as suggested by the Supreme Court, carefully tailored to the unique circumstances of the conduct of military and intelligence operations during hostilities.”
Despite the ongoing debate, on June 25 the committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the full Senate for consideration. Staff at the Armed Services Committee press office could not say when the Senate will take up the bill.
ACT for America
P.O. Box 12765
Pensacola, FL 32591
ACT for America is an issues advocacy organization dedicated to effectively organizing and mobilizing the most powerful grassroots citizen action network in America, a grassroots network committed to informed and coordinated civic action that will lead to public policies that promote America’s national security and the defense of American democratic values against the assault of radical Islam. We are only as strong as our supporters, and your volunteer and financial support is essential to our success. Thank you for helping us make America safer and more secure.
HOW CAN I TELL OTHERS ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION?
Send a personalized version of this message to your friends.
Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.
"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."
In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.
"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."
Using data collected in 1929 by the Conference Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cole and Ohanian were able to establish average wages and prices across a range of industries just prior to the Depression. By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect. They then compared those figures with actual prices and wages as reflected in the Conference Board data.
In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity.
Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.
"High wages and high prices in an economic slump run contrary to everything we know about market forces in economic downturns," Ohanian said. "As we've seen in the past several years, salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high. By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market's self-correcting forces."
The policies were contained in the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which exempted industries from antitrust prosecution if they agreed to enter into collective bargaining agreements that significantly raised wages. Because protection from antitrust prosecution all but ensured higher prices for goods and services, a wide range of industries took the bait, Cole and Ohanian found. By 1934 more than 500 industries, which accounted for nearly 80 percent of private, non-agricultural employment, had entered into the collective bargaining agreements called for under NIRA.
Cole and Ohanian calculate that NIRA and its aftermath account for 60 percent of the weak recovery. Without the policies, they contend that the Depression would have ended in 1936 instead of the year when they believe the slump actually ended: 1943.
Roosevelt's role in lifting the nation out of the Great Depression has been so revered that Time magazine readers cited it in 1999 when naming him the 20th century's second-most influential figure.
"This is exciting and valuable research," said Robert E. Lucas Jr., the 1995 Nobel Laureate in economics, and the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. "The prevention and cure of depressions is a central mission of macroeconomics, and if we can't understand what happened in the 1930s, how can we be sure it won't happen again?"
NIRA's role in prolonging the Depression has not been more closely scrutinized because the Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional within two years of its passage.
"Historians have assumed that the policies didn't have an impact because they were too short-lived, but the proof is in the pudding," Ohanian said. "We show that they really did artificially inflate wages and prices."
Even after being deemed unconstitutional, Roosevelt's anti-competition policies persisted — albeit under a different guise, the scholars found. Ohanian and Cole painstakingly documented the extent to which the Roosevelt administration looked the other way as industries once protected by NIRA continued to engage in price-fixing practices for four more years.
The number of antitrust cases brought by the Department of Justice fell from an average of 12.5 cases per year during the 1920s to an average of 6.5 cases per year from 1935 to 1938, the scholars found. Collusion had become so widespread that one Department of Interior official complained of receiving identical bids from a protected industry (steel) on 257 different occasions between mid-1935 and mid-1936. The bids were not only identical but also 50 percent higher than foreign steel prices. Without competition, wholesale prices remained inflated, averaging 14 percent higher than they would have been without the troublesome practices, the UCLA economists calculate.
NIRA's labor provisions, meanwhile, were strengthened in the National Relations Act, signed into law in 1935. As union membership doubled, so did labor's bargaining power, rising from 14 million strike days in 1936 to about 28 million in 1937. By 1939 wages in protected industries remained 24 percent to 33 percent above where they should have been, based on 1929 figures, Cole and Ohanian calculate. Unemployment persisted. By 1939 the U.S. unemployment rate was 17.2 percent, down somewhat from its 1933 peak of 24.9 percent but still remarkably high. By comparison, in May 2003, the unemployment rate of 6.1 percent was the highest in nine years.
Recovery came only after the Department of Justice dramatically stepped enforcement of antitrust cases nearly four-fold and organized labor suffered a string of setbacks, the economists found.
"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."