Let the Round-Up Begin

I’m not
lawyer, but it seems to me there are a few major differences between 1861 and 2006,
most notably:

 

  • Abraham Lincoln
    suspended Habeas Corpus and opened up the prospect of military tribunals for as many as a
    million-and-a-half
    US citizens. Men actively engaged in a shooting war on US soil.
    Under
    this regime roughly
    18,000 “opponents” were arrested
    (including public officials and
    journalists).
  • George Bush
    and Congress have done effectively the same thing for aliens
    who have taken up arms against the US; something that to date has primarily taken place overseas.

Some have
argued that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 greases an already slippery
slope that leaves open the possibility that people who check out the “wrong”
books, ignorantly donate to the wrong charity, or lawyers who represent
terrorists will be charged under the Act, thus rolling the clock back 140-odd
years. Color me skeptical.

In the past
five years we’ve locked up hundreds of people picked up on actual battlefields
trying to kill US soldiers and a few dozen more that were hiding from US
forces after planning/previously attacking our citizens. Jose Padilla – one guy
– notwithstanding, can anyone point to me the avalanche of “innocents” that we’ve
rounded up Lincoln-like in the past five years? Can anyone provide stats on the
number of people who have been detained for checking out Catcher in the Rye?
The number of anti-war
protestors who have been spirited away to secret CIA prisons?

There is a
popular security expert who loves to deride promoters of “movie
plot threat
s.” I don’t always agree with his take on issues but I happily
join the anti-movie-plot chorus: Real life is not The Siege.

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