September 19, 2006

Terrorist Detainment Bill

I haven't blogged at all about the controversy surrounding the President's bill to request authority to detain terrorism captives and try them before military tribunals, other than expressing my approval for the President's decision to work with Congress on the subject. I haven't blogged about the defection of between six to fifteen Republican Senators from the party line and their insistence that, among other things, the defendants have some ability to confront the evidence to be used against them. I haven't blogged about who I think is right and who I think is wrong; I haven't blogged about the Republicans who support the original White House bill, what I think of the new and revised White House proposal, what I think of the split in the GOP, what I think of the Democrats snickering up their sleeves about Republican disunity on the party's core issue, or the President's frustration with not getting exactly what he wanted out of Congress.

I haven't blogged about these things because there really isn't a lot for me to say. This is how the political process works. Congress is supposed to critically evaluate, deliberate about, and if necessary imposed modifications to, the proposals of the President. There is supposed to be a diversity of opinions about how we should do things. The people making these decisions are supposed to make them based, on political pressures, their own wisdom and intelligence, and their own visions of what is both patriotic and advantageous for the country. It's the reason that Congress was created as a deliberative body.

There doesn't seem to be much doubt that Congress is going to give the President some form of authority to detain and try these people. And there is no doubt that we are talking about people who cannot be trusted with pointy sticks, much less dangerous information and the liberty to take advantage of it. And, there is no doubt that this pivotal group of "moderate" Republicans is committed to seeing that the resulting scheme is both fair and effective. I would hardly call Lindsey Graham and John McCain "moderates" without noting that if that label really fits, the entire spectrum has moved very far to the right from when I first came to political awareness.

The process is messy, frustrating, overrun with competing egos, divisive, electoral cannon fodder, time-consuming, and the result is not guaranteed to favor one or the other side of the debate. That's why they call it "politics" and not "dictatorship." That's why the Supreme Court insisted that another branch of government be involved in making these decisions. That's the way it's supposed to work, and the system seems to be working the way it's supposed to work. That's what the Framers intended to happen and it's what ought to be happening. So I'm pretty much satisfied with the process, I don't have a super-clear picture of what the result is going to be (I don't think anyone does), and again, I'm pleased to see the three branches of government doing their respective jobs.

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