"The president has signed an order allowing the prosecution of suspected terrorists without constitutional safeguards"
"WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats began making plans yesterday to fight President Bush's decision to prosecute suspected terrorists before secret military tribunals. New York Sen. Charles Schumer announced hearings next week on whether the president has the authority to call for tribunals without congressional approval. Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich said he would offer legislation this week banning the use of government money to set up the secret trials.
"Bush signed an order earlier this month allowing the Pentagon to form military courts to try non-U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism. White House lawyers say military tribunals could be conducted in secret outside the United States to protect against retaliation and the exposure of intelligence sources. The idea has been criticized by members of Congress and Civil Libertarians who say the civilian court system and the due-process protections should be made available to terrorism suspects.
"In a letter released yesterday, Kucinich and 38 other House members wrote: "We oppose the creation of military tribunals, which would permit secret arrests, secret charges using secret evidence, secret prosecutions, secret witnesses, secret trials, secret convictions, secret sentencing and even secret executions.' The only two non-Democrats who signed the letter were Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia and independent Rep. Barnie Sanders of Vermont.
"Schumer said he was not opposed to the idea of military tribunals as Kucinich is, but thought that Mr. Bush should have consulted Congress before unilaterally deciding to have tribunals. 'If we have a congressional process to vet this proposal, we'll gain a number of things', Schumer said. 'We'll gain more balance; we'll gain legitimacy; foreign countries like Spain will look at the process better; and we'll gain a system of checks and balances which certainly should apply to this situation, which is a large feeding of power to the executive branch'."
"Schumer said he also wants a discussion on whether Mr. Bush has the authority to create a military tribunal without congressional approval. There were military tribunals during World War II, but Congress approved of these first, Schumer said."