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Fuehrer Bush OKs Military Trials for Civilians

President Bush signed an order Tuesday that would allow the government to try people accused of terrorism in front of a special military commission instead of in civilian court. Compare and contrast with the rise of Hitler's poer in Nazi Germany.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush signed an order Tuesday that would allow the government to try people accused of terrorism in front of a special military commission instead of in civilian court.

The order, signed by Bush before he left for Crawford, Texas, gives the administration another avenue to bring the Sept. 11 terrorists to justice, White House counsel Albert Gonzales told The Associated Press.

``This is a new tool to use against terrorism,'' Gonzales said in a telephone interview. He said there were precedents in World War II and the Civil War.

The White House was to release the order late Tuesday.

Gonzales, a former Texas Supreme Court judge who is the president's top lawyer, said a military commission could have several advantages over a civilian court. It is easier to protect the sources and methods of investigators in military proceedings, for example, and a military trial can be held overseas.

Gonzales said there may be times when prosecutors feel a trial in America would be unsafe.

``There may not be a need for this and the president may make a determination that he does not want to use this tool, but he felt it appropriate that he have this tool available to him,'' the lawyer said.

The order is the latest effort by the administration to toughen the nation's laws against terrorists.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the administration pushed through Congress an anti-terrorism bill that Bush said was vital but civil liberties groups said went to far, violating Americans' constitutional rights. It expands the FBI's wiretapping and electronic surveillance authority and imposes stronger penalties for harboring or financing terrorists. The measure also increases the number of crimes considered terrorist acts and toughens the punishments for committing them.

Under the new order, Bush could establish a military commission in the future by asking the secretary of defense to establish the rules for one.

``This does not identify by name who should be exposed to military justice,'' Gonzales said. ``It just provides the framework that, should the president have findings in the future, he could'' order Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld to establish such a commission.

Gonzales said there is precedent for such panels.

President Franklin Roosevelt had World War II saboteurs tried by military commission, as did President Lincoln during the Civil War, the lawyer said. Indeed, Lincoln assassination plotters were tried and convicted by military court, he said.

``This is a global war. To have successful prosecutions, we might have to give up sources and methods'' in a civilian court. ``We don't want to have to do that.''

Gonzalez said: ``Any individual subject to the order would be given a full and fair trial, pursuant to the secretary of defense.''

The administration has been considering both military and civilian trial options. In either scenario, any suspect would retain rights to a lawyer and to a trial by jury.

The military proceedings would give the government greater latitude, according to one military law expert. New York attorney Victor St. John said last month, ``A military court would probably have more control over things like media coverage and location. There is certainly a greater sense of security and formality that might keep things from dissolving into a circus.''

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A n evil (president) is upon our land! 14.Nov.2001 11:54

Nature Boy

Perhaps now would be a good time for all of us civil rights fans to move to the nice, scenic neighborhood of China- occupied-Tibet . Because right now the constitution is being ripped to shreds by the one man ( and I use "man" loosely,) who is suposed to be the America's highest protector of our rights! I have 3 friends in Califoria who have been arrested for acts of terrorism, one for assualting man who tried to rape his sister, one for non-gang related tagging, and one for having a piece of paper with a list of names of jocks and valley girls that he would not mourn if they were hit by a bus because they always made jokes about him. All first-time offenders. The tagger got off after five months of court with three years probation, the listman got fed to the corparate media first, who spread his name across every channel even though he was a nonconcenting minor, then expelled from exery school in the county, and the assault got three years in prison(only sixteen!) and eight years parole. All now have "terrorism" in their permanent police record!!! Now, most people think that terrorist charges are used on terrorists and many people are worried (and historically validated) that the title terrorist will be passed on to a non-Repubrocrat political groups and activists, but I am from a state were being labeled a terrorist is an everyday occurance. And when I hear that the Pres wants to throw away civilian rights to a civilian trial, along with habious corpus, etc., it scares the shit out of me. If this had already been in effect, my friends may have lost the right to a civilian criminal trial, just because the were arrested as "terrorists". Keep your eyes peeled, this will happen, and most likely soon.