As we all know, the Senate and the House of Representatives this week have betrayed the American constitution and basic American values. They legalized what most of us would consider torture, stripped away habeas corpus rights in which a prisoner could challenge his or her detainment, authorized the President to declare anyone, American citizen or not, an enemy combatant and imprison them for as long as he likes, without them having the right to challenge that detainment, without need to provide charge, allow legal representation or bring the detainee to trial, and even if they go to trial perhaps without even the right to see the evidence against them.
Although most of this will be applied to foreigners, any American at any time could be hauled in with no way to challenge that arrest and detainment. Congress may trust that the President will not abuse those powers, but without oversight or the detainee's ability to challenge his/her imprisonment, there are no guarantees that it won't be used against politically inconvenient individuals, peace activists, what have you. There is an excellent column in today's New York Times talking about the downfall of Rome, and tracing it to a similar authorization of absolute authority by the Roman Senate after a terrorist attack. Let us hope that this law does not become the undoing of the American democracy!
It still amazes me that Congress could pass such a law. My only hope is that it will, like the 21st Amendement repealed prohibition, soon be repealed by a new law. I hope that in the meantime it is applied only infrequently, though I fear all too many innocent people will be caught up in its snares.