Justice Kept In the Dark

A few snips from the article:

“The Supreme Court has consistently upheld the chief executive’s extraordinary powers to protect the national security. “The Constitution is not a suicide pact,” wrote Justice Robert Jackson 50 years ago.

Civil liberties are not absolute rights. They must be balanced against the public safety. At a time when suicidal mass murderers are trying to infiltrate the United States, the balance has shifted.”

“In international law, terrorists, like spies, are “unlawful combatants.” They don’t even enjoy the basic rights of prisoners of war, who are entitled by the Geneva Convention to be properly fed and housed and not subjected to torture. But terror suspects living in the United States will be able to go to a federal court to file a writ of habeas corpus, the ancient protection against arbitrary imprisonment by the state. The federal courts are likely to throw out any military tribunals that do not offer the “fair and full trial” promised by the Bush administration. So far, according to senior officials, only a small number of suspects now in federal custody are likely to be considered to be tried in a military tribunal—and only then if a strong connection to the Qaeda network can be firmly established.”

“Public fear is behind much of the aggressive stance taken by law enforcement at all levels. One Justice Department official suggested to NEWSWEEK that the administration chose to get tough now to head off a public cry for even more draconian measures in the event of a second major terror attack. If the terrorists do hit again—a high probability, federal officials still warn—panicked Americans might call for even more drastic steps. Privacy safeguards would likely come under assault from government eavesdroppers. And Americans really would have to start worrying about their freedoms as well as their safety.”