The Washington Post reports that Bush’s new bill on military commissions could be a “precedent-setting Congressional endorsement for the indefinite detention” of anyone the president deems an enemy combatant—including American citizens far from foreign battlefields.
The government has maintained since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that, based on its reading of the laws of war, anyone it labels an unlawful enemy combatant can be held indefinitely at military or CIA prisons. But Congress has not yet expressed its view on who is an unlawful combatant, and the Supreme Court has not ruled directly on the matter.
As a result, human rights experts expressed concern yesterday that the language in the new provision would be a precedent-setting congressional endorsement for the indefinite detention of anyone who, as the bill states, “has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States” or its military allies.
The definition applies to foreigners living inside or outside the United States and does not rule out the possibility of designating a U.S. citizen as an unlawful combatant.
... Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said that by including those who “supported hostilities”—rather than those who “engage in acts” against the United States—the government intends the legislation to sanction its seizure and indefinite detention of people far from the battlefield.