A return to 1942

Japanese-American child being detained by US government in 1942, Smithsonian Institution, Copyright 2003

In 1942, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the US government collected over 100,000 Japanese-Americans, most of them American citizens, and detained them in internment camps for over three years because they were seen as threats to American security.

Today, a bill approved by Congress gives the President the power to remove American citizens’ right to trial and allows the military to detain them as an enemy soldier. (From the Act: “Detention without trial until the end of the hostilities” of anyone who “substantially supports such groups and/or associated forces.”)

Before this act, the President only had the power to detain those who “helped perpetrate the 9/11 attack or (b) harbored the perpetrators.”

We give great power to our government and we trust them to use it wisely. What do you think? Should the government have this power to jail you without trial if they find that you “substantially supported” terrorism without defining “substantially” or “supported” and not not allowing a lawyer to argue it for you? And if so, should the President claim these powers “until the end of hostilities” in a war against terrorism which has no clear end?

The government has the power to dispense justice under a system of law with clear codes of right and wrong.
If Obama signs this bill today, the government will be able to decide, without argument, when punishment is necessary and how to dole it out.

These are serious questions that I hope all of you would consider to ensure we can live a happy life.

References:

http://www.lawfareblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/NDAA-Conference-Report-Detainee-Section.pdf