Trampling on the Constitution

Yesterday's New York Times tells the story of two American citizens who were detained for several weeks by the U.S. military while working as contractors in Iraq.  According to the report, the two men were not permitted to speak with attorneys; their families were not informed of their whereabouts; and they were mistreated while in custody.  In fact, one of the Americans was detained after reporting possible misconduct by the Iraqi company for which he worked to the F.B.I.

For several years, this administration has been insisting that its detention policies apply only to unlawful enemy combatants, not American citizens.  Americans, we were told, have the right to contest their detention in court.  When Congress considered the Military Commissions Act, many of us expressed concern that the bill was written so broadly that it would allow the government to grab anyone, even an American, anywhere in the world, and detain him or her indefinitely without the benefit of a hearing.

Now our worst fears have been confirmed.  This administration has flouted the Constitution and the laws of the United States.  The President has shown a reckless disregard for the rule of law.

The American people are entitled to know the facts, not just the evasions and misrepresentations of this administration.  When the new Congress begins in January, I will call for hearings obligating the administration to explain what it has been doing and I will insist that the detention laws be reviewed in order to stop this President's lawless behavior.