Rachel Alexander

Some on the right are also speaking up against the bill. A writer for Forbes has labeled it "the greatest threat to civil liberties Americans face." Senators Rand Paul (R-TX) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) were the only Republican Senators to vote against it.

Opponents contend it violates due process protections provided in the Sixth Amendment’s right to a trial as well as Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution, which guarantees those accused with treason additional due process protections. The bill is accused of significantly expanding the military’s detention authority. Hamdi v. Rumsfeld is distinguished by pointing out that Hamdi was arrested overseas, not in the U.S. Critics assert it turns the entire world into an endless battlefield, observing that it has been over 10 years since 911.

This is just more of the same old debate that has been going on for the past 10 years over detaining suspected terrorists without a trial. The problem is that the world has changed due to terrorism. Before the surge of terrorism, war was black and white, fought in identifiable locations and usually with a clear beginning and end. Now, terrorists come from multiple countries and strike multiple countries periodically and indefinitely. The fundamental question comes down to whether terrorism should be treated like war. If it is not and addressed through regular law enforcement, suspected terrorists will receive the full panoply of rights provided to regular criminals.

Ron Marks, Senior Fellow at the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute, believes there no longer needs to be a distinction. “We can debate the merits of 20th century laws that distinguish between U.S. soil and overseas,” he wrote in a defense of the Act.  In some ways, it is almost quaint. But quaint will not deter our enemies.” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) argues that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”

There needs to be a more honest debate over the Act. Right now the hysterical protests against it are not providing a full and accurate portrayal of what the Act actually does. It merely codifies existing federal law. Omitting key information does not bolster the philosophical argument against military detainment of suspected terrorists, but creates a perception that opponents are using deceptive tactics to sneakily shove through an unpopular position. There are some persuasive arguments against it that should be thoroughly analyzed without the veil of misleading language. Greenwald, one of the few on the left to honestly evaluate the bill, sums up the Act the best, “To be perfectly honest, I just couldn’t get myself worked up over a bill that, with some exceptions, does little more than formally recognize and codify what our Government is already doing.”


Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander is the editor of the Intellectual Conservative.