Judge Napolitano in LA Times: The Case Against Military TribunalsSubmitted by Michael Nystrom on Tue, 12/01/2009 - 11:22
It's a violation of the Constitution to use the panels without a declaration of war -- and just calling it a 'war' on terror doesn't count.
By Andrew P. Napolitano | November 29, 2009
In the uproar caused by Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.'s announcement that the alleged planners of the 9/11 attacks are to be tried in U.S. District Court in New York City, and the suspects in the attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole will go on trial before military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the public discourse has lost sight of the fundamental principles that guide the government when it makes such decisions. Unfortunately, the government has lost sight of the principles as well.
When President George W. Bush spoke to Congress shortly after 9/11, he did not ask for a declaration of war. Instead, Republican leaders offered and Congress enacted an Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The authorization was open-ended as to its targets and its conclusion, and basically told the president and his successors that they could pursue whomever they wanted, wherever their pursuits took them, so long as they believed that the people they pursued had engaged in acts of terrorism against the United States. Thus was born the "war" on terror.
Tellingly, and perhaps because we did not know at the time precisely who had planned the 9/11 attacks, Congress did not declare war. But the use of the word "war" persisted nonetheless. Even after he learned what countries had sponsored terrorism against us and our allies with governmental assistance, Bush did not seek a declaration of war against them. Since 9/11, American agents have captured and seized nearly 800 people from all over the globe in connection with the attacks, and now five have been charged with planning them.