Fourth Circuit Court Ruling Gives Bush Dictatorial Powers

Quick note from Joshua H: The headline on this piece was based on my December interview with the Center for Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner -- who has fought like hell against Bush's claimed war powers. Ratner told me, "The difference between a police state and a nonpolice state is, fundamentally, whether the executive can pick you up and disappear you or whether you can go to a court and challenge the executive, whether you can say: 'What's the legal reason you're holding me?'"

*****


The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (one level below the Supreme Court) has just ruled that Bush was granted the unlimited power by Congress to detain indefinitely anyone in the United States (you, me, your teenage son or daughter, anyone at all) merely be declaring them an enemy combatant. In a split 5-4 decision the Fourth Circuit also held that said enemy combatant was permitted to "challenge" that detention, but failed to elaborate on what form that challenge should take. From the NY Times:
President Bush has the legal power to order the indefinite military detentions of civilians captured in the United States, the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled on Tuesday in a fractured 5-to-4 decision.
But a second, overlapping 5-to-4 majority of the court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, ruled that Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar now in military custody in Charleston, S.C., must be given an additional opportunity to challenge his detention in federal court there. An earlier court proceeding, in which the government had presented only a sworn statement from a defense intelligence official, was inadequate, the second majority ruled. [...]
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