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Dangerous DOD Mission Creep to a Military Dictatorship

April 27, 2011

Don’t Expand the Military’s Antiterrorism Role

According to a Human Rights First summary of both bills, they require taking the prosecution and handling of terror suspects out of the civilian courts. The bills require that terror suspects be held indefinitely without trial or be tried before military commissions, unless the secretary of defense grants a waiver. This provision is flagrantly unconstitutional, because the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution requires a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury,” for “all criminal prosecutions.” The bill also dangerously violates the long-standing principle of posse comitatus, which helps safeguard the republic by keeping the military out of domestic law enforcement. The bill subjects even U.S. citizens captured in the United States to military jurisdiction, requires the FBI and local law enforcement to turn terror suspects over to the military, and requires federal prosecutors to get the secretary of defense’s approval to pursue anti-terrorism cases in the United States.

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