Its Not Your Grandfathers
John Birch Society Anymore
William Norman Grigg is the senior editor of The New American magazine,
which he describes as an affiliated publication of the John Birch Society.
The following is from his Review of the News Online. I couldnt have said
it better myself, and consequently wont. Mr. Griggs article is headed
President Bushs Fascist Tribunals.)
The ruthless acquisition and exercise of power is the hallmark of
totalitarian dictatorship in both its fascist and communist manifestations.
During the last two years of Bill Clintons reign, many of his conservative
critics had no difficulty finding the seeds of fascism in his use of
executive orders to circumvent congressional opposition. But many of the
actions taken by President Bush in the ongoing war on terrorism are power
grabs more audacious than any attempted by Bill Clinton.
It is not difficult to imagine how conservative Republicans would have
reacted if Bill Clinton, rather than George W. Bush, had issued the November
13th decree authorizing the creation of secret military tribunals to try
suspected terrorists. That order instructs the Secretary of Defense to
establish military commissions that could try any non-citizen suspected of
involvement in terrorism.
Trials conducted by such commissions would be devoid of the legal and
procedural guarantees found in our Bill of Rights. Rather than a jury trial,
each defendant would be tried by a panel of military officers whose decisions
would not be subject to review by civilian courts.
...In our constitutional system, the President does not have the authority to
create his own court system. All courts below the Supreme Court are created
by the Congress and subject to congressional supervision. An executive who
can create courts that answer only to him is no longer a President, but
rather a monarch or a dictator. Indeed, one of the specific grievances
against King George listed in the Declaration of Independence was the charge
that He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their
Apologists for the Presidents judicial power grab insist that precedents for
military tribunals were set by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, and
that their use has been unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court. However, the
post-World War II Supreme Court decision specified that such tribunals can be
convened following a formal declaration of war--meaning that they are
ultimately subject to congressional action and oversight.
In its 1866 decision Ex Parte Milligan, which voided Lincolns
order creating military tribunals the Supreme Court held that if the
President can unilaterally create such courts, ... republican government is a
failure, and there is an end of liberty regulated by law. Martial law,
established on such a basis, destroys every guarantee of the Constitution and
effectively renders the military independent of and superior to the civil
power...Civil liberty and this kind of martial law cannot endure together;
one or the other must perish...Martial rule can never exist where the Courts
are open, and in the proper and unobstructed exercise of their jurisdiction.