The United States Senate recently passed a bill which contains a section which allows the United States military to arrest United States citizens within America’s borders. This seems like an incredibly disturbing prospect. While the Middle East is in turmoil in a struggle for freedoms, bills like this are silently passing through our congress, bringing us closer to military law.
What seems even more disturbing is the fact that only 1 US Senator, Jon Kyl of Arizona, voted against the amendment within the bill which would give the US military the ability to arrest US citizens in America. The bill still needs to pass through the House of Representatives and will likely be vetoed by President Obama, but the simple fact that 99% of the US Senate voted in favor of the provision is cause enough for concern.
Furthermore, Senators in favor of the bill, particularly Lindsey Graham, have some even more disturbing explanations for their support of the bill. Graham said in defense of the provision:
“The threats we face as a nation are growing. Homegrown terrorism is going to become a greater reality, and we need to have tools. Law enforcement is one tool, but in some cases holding people who have decided to help al Qaeda and turn on the rest of us and try to kill us so we can hold them long enough to interrogate them to find out what they’re up to makes sense.”
Thus, in a sense, Graham believes that the government is facing the Dirty Hands problem. The Dirty Hands problem requires for something bad to be committed in order to accomplish something good for the people. In Graham’s eyes, the government must reduce the rights of the American people in order to fight “homegrown terrorism” effectively. Graham further explains his position in a quote which I find to be even more disturbing:
“When you hold somebody under the criminal justice system you have to read them their rights right off the bat. Under the law of war you don’t because the purpose is to gather intelligence. We need that tool now as much as any time, including World War II.”
I personally do not buy the argument for this bill. I do not think that this bill should be considered an example of Dirty Hands because I think the passage of the bill will only lead to bad results. I think that this law could only be used unjustly, and I am not convinced that only terrorists will be targeted if this bill passes. If law enforcement officials legitimately have reason to arrest a person, they should have enough proof to uphold their claim in the justice system. Is that not the whole point of due process of law?
Some are arguing that the intent of this bill is not to target US citizens with the military or to limit the rights of the people. However, the US Senate shot down an amendment to the bill which would prevent the military from detaining US citizens without a hearing or trial. With this act, the Senate has made it clear that their intent is to limit the rights of US citizens, removing their right to a trial.
Also, to suggest that America is a warzone is very disturbing. No war is occurring within American borders. This kind of rhetoric seems very similar to the claims of many Arab leaders who used and are using their military to fight “terrorists” within their countries. Suggesting that we need to resort to tactics used in WWII is incredibly disturbing as well. Will the military also be allowed to place Muslims or other “suspected terrorists” in internment camps as they did to Japanese Americans during WWII?
Thus, I personally believe that only bad will come out of such a bill. The rights of Americans will be immensely violated if this bill actually goes into effect, and I do not believe taking the rights of any person (whether a US citizen or not) can result in any good. Consequently, I do not think that this is a Dirty Hands problem since some good must be attained for the Congress to be involved in Dirty Hands.