Friday, September 29, 2006

the senate's version of the bill

The Senate's version of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which it passed yesterday, is S.3930. I don't have time this morning to do a full analysis, but a quick check of the definitions section, § 948a, seems to show it does not allow a Presidentially-appointed commission to declare someone an enemy combatant:
(3) LAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- The term `lawful enemy combatant' means an individual who is--

(A) a member of the regular forces of a State party engaged in hostilities against the United States;

(B) a member of a militia, volunteer corps, or organized resistance movement belonging to a State party engaged in such hostilities, which are under responsible command, wear a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance, carry their arms openly, and abide by the law of war; or

(C) a member of a regular armed force who professes allegiance to a government engaged in such hostilities, but not recognized by the United States.

(4) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- The term `unlawful enemy combatant' means an individual engaged in hostilities against the United States who is not a lawful enemy combatant.
That's good. It appears to me that the House's version would let a President use it to target political opponents. (Not necessarily this President. Remember that legislation tends to stick around. Think back over the last 50-70 years of Presidents, and project forward that same time span. Are there none that might succumb to the temptation?) Though I might have missed a jurisdictional provision somewhere in there.

On the other hand, the Senate version still denies the Geneva Conventions to alien unlawful enemy combatants (§ 948b(f)) and includes similar handling of confidential information (§ 948j(b)).

You can find out how your Senator voted on the bill here. (Both California Senators voted against it.) The corresponding roll-call vote for the House version is here.

At this point, we'll see what happens once they reconcile the two bills.

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