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I'll never tell

No matter how one feels about how enemy combatants deserve to be treated -- summary execution is too good for them, as far as I'm concerned -- and no matter how one feels about what level of due process these people should receive, I would think there would be one thing that reasonable people on all sides could agree upon: we should be sure that they are enemy combatants before we do anything to them. Another point on which I would hope reasonable people could agree: the government saying "Trust us, we know what we're doing" isn't very comforting. Given the many revelations about law enforcement incompetence, not to mention outright malfeasance, there's no way they can ask us to take their word for it.

And yet, that's what happening: the Justice Department is taking the position that providing evidence to support the claim that someone is an enemy combatant is unnecessary:

"An inspection of the requested materials would all but amount to a [new] review of the military's enemy combatant determination, and thus exceed the limited standard of review governing the Executive determination at issue," the Justice Department said in a legal memo.
What does the Justice Department think is required?
A week later, Doumar asked the government to explain why it was holding Hamdi, and on July 25, prosecutors submitted a two-page declaration by Michael H. Mobbs, a Defense Department special adviser on enemy combatants.

Mobbs wrote that Hamdi traveled to Afghanistan in July or August of last year, joined a Taliban military unit, received weapons training and remained with his unit after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Prosecutors believe that Mobbs's declaration should be sufficient for Doumar's needs. "Under the fundamental separation of powers principles recognized by the 4th Circuit . . . in justifying the detention of captured enemy combatants in wartime, the military should not need to supply a court with the raw notes from interviews with a captured enemy combatant . . . or the other types of information listed in the court's order," Leonard wrote.

In short, "He's an enemy combatant because we say he is. And you should believe us because we wrote it down on a piece of paper." A little frightening, to say the least.

This is not an argument that a detained individual is entitled to a full trial to determine his status -- but independent review of the evidence would be nice. It's not as if there are such overwhelmingly large numbers of people being detained that it would overwhelm the courts to allow judicial review. We're not talking about everyone at Guantanamo, after all; just American citizens. If there's evidence to support the claims, surely a judge can be trusted to interpret it.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 7, 2002 5:49 AM.

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