Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hey Spotty! You’re wrong!

Is that you Dave? Or Peter? Maybe Sticks? Oh, it's you grasshopper. You say that Spot is in error? Unlikely, but Spotty will hear you out.

Spotty, you remember when you said that the Military Commissions Act did not apply to citizens?

Yes, that was Spot's impression based on his reading of the MCA at the time it was enacted. That's the view of the New York Times as expressed in a recent editorial, too.

I know, Spotty, but what about this language in the part of the MCA that outlines the substantive violations of the MCA?

Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States ... shall be punished as a military commission … may direct.

You raise a very important and interesting point, grasshopper. Who owes "allegiance or duty to the United States?" That does sound a lot like citizens. On the other hand, the military commissions act was specifically enacted to deal with unlawful combatants; these are the persons "subject to this chapter."

But Spotty will concede there's an ambiguity. And it's probably a big enough ambiguity to get citizens thrown into the gulag from which they will have no judicial remedy until they have been tried and convicted by a military commission.

Boys and girls for further reading on the subject, Spot recommends this article.

Update: And this one, too, by Peter Van Erp on Informed Comment.

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