Extrajudicial Detention, Real & Imagined
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., has introduced to the House of Representatives a new bill, H.R. 645, calling for the secretary of homeland security to establish no fewer than six national emergency centers for corralling civilians on military installations.
The proposed bill, which has received little mainstream media attention, appears designed to create the type of detention center that those concerned about use of the military in domestic affairs fear could be used as concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany.
Since I’m no such man, the aforementioned excerpt instead merely elicits a chuckle or two. Particularly when one actually reads the text of H.R. 645, and finds it completely devoid of any provisions authorizing (say) detention of civilians without charge or trial, or suspension of habeas corpus, or the like.
Contrast such silence with the provisions of Executive Order 9066:
…by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such actions necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commanders may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with such respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Sectary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgement of the Secretary of War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order. […]
I hereby further authorize and direct the Secretary of War and the said Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military area hereinabove authorized to be designated, including the use of Federal troops and other Federal Agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies.
…or the statute (*) associated therewith:
That whoever shall enter, remain in, leave, or commit any act in any military area or military zone prescribed, under the authority of an Executive order of the President, by the Secretary of War, or by any military commander designated by the Secretary of War, contrary to the restrictions applicable to any such area or zone or contrary to the order of the Secretary of War or any such military commander, shall, if it appears that he knew or should have known of the existence and extent of the restrictions or order and that his act was in violation thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be liable to a fine of not to exceed $5.000 or to imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, for each offense.
…or the Emergency Detention Act of 1950 (**):
SEC. 103. (a) Whenever there shall be in existence such an emergency, the President, acting through the Attorney General, is hereby authorized to apprehend and by order detain, pursuant to the provisions of this title, each person as to whom there is reasonable ground to believe that such person probably will engage in, or probably will conspire with others to engage in, acts of espionage or of sabotage.
(b) Any person detained hereunder (hereinafter referred to as detainee”) shall be released from such emergency detention upon-
(1) the termination of such emergency by proclamation of the President or by concurrent resolution of the Congress;
(2) an order of release issued by the Attorney General;
(3) a final order of release after hearing by the Board of Detention Review, hereinafter established;
(4) a final order of release by a United States court, after review of the action of the Board of Detention Review, or upon a writ of habeas corpus.
…or Proclamation 2525 (***), issued under the authority of the Alien Enemies Act:
Alien enemies deemed dangerous to the public peace or safety of the United States by the Attorney General or the Secretary of War, as the case may be, are subject to summary apprehension. […] Alien enemies arrested shall be subject to confinement in such place of detention as may be directed by the officers responsible for the execution of these regulations and for the arrest, detention and internment of alien enemies in each case, or in such other places of detention as may be directed from time to time by the Attorney General…and by the Secretary of War…and there confined until he shall have received such permit as the Attorney General or the Secretary of War…shall prescribe.
…or the Habeas Corpus Act of 1863 (****):
That, during the present rebellion, the President of the United States, whenever, in his judgment, the public safety may require it, is authorized to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in any case throughout the United States, or any part thereof. And whenever and wherever the said privilege shall be suspended, as aforesaid, no military or other officer shall be compelled,. in answer to any writ of habeas corpus, to return, the body of any person or persons detained by him by authority of the President; but upon the certificate, under oath, of the officer having charge of any one so detained that such person is detained by him as a prisoner under authority of the President, further proceedings under the writ of habeas corpus shall be suspended by the judge or court having issued the said writ, so long as said suspension by the President shall remain in force, and said rebellion continue.
Of course, Corsi’s paranoid musings are vaguely reminiscent of those executive order lists that (still!) float around the web, and which purport to have uncovered secret plans for dictatorship in the bureaucracy’s attempts at post-nuclear-warfare disaster-management planning. I remember once reading one of those lists back in the day, and then being underwhelmed by the actual text of the cited executive orders. I am similarly unimpressed by Mr. Corsi’s allegations.
Then again, perhaps I’m just overly naive….
(*) Act of Mar. 21, 1942, 56 Stat. 173, formerly codified by 18 USC 1383
(**) Act of Sept. 23, 1950, 64 Stat 987, 1021 et seq.
(***) Dec. 7, 1941; 55 Stat. Pt. 2, 1700
(****) Mar. 3, 1863; 12 Stat. 755