Senate okay with indefinite detention of U.S. citizens

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Guantanamo Bay

As all maybe a few American schoolchildren know, the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution states: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury … and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence." Unfortunately, our founding fathers were too lazy, stupid and shortsighted to add "unless the accused is a terrorist, a dirty terrorist!" to the Bill of Rights.

The Senate has just corrected this grievous mistake on the part of James Madison and Co., because modern politicians — faced with modern problems, such as not wanting to provide their opponents with fuel for negative campaign ads are much wiser than the dead revolutionaries who established our way of life. By a 55 to 45 vote, legislators refused to block the military from indefinitely detaining U.S. citizens suspected of joining a terrorist organization, including those apprehended on domestic soil. (In related news, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg just wondered if he can designate Occupy Wall Street protestors as bloodthirsty jihadists. Ha! Ha! How could this possibly be abused?)

In the patriotic words of Sen. Lindsey Graham, who absolutely loves limited government, except when he doesn't: "When they say, 'I want my lawyer,' you tell them: 'Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer. You are an enemy combatant, and we are going to talk to you about why you joined Al Qaeda.'" (Actually, nobody is going to talk to you, because you're in solitary confinement for the rest of your life. Oh, you have an American passport? Cute.)

Strangely, the Senate then voted 99-1 to clarify that the decision, which President Obama has promised to veto, won't affect "existing law" one way or the other — meaning it's not a per se endorsement of detention without trial for citizens, just a refusal to ban it, or something — with Sen. Carl Levin explaining: "We make clear that whatever the law is, it is unaffected by this language in our bill." And "whatever the law is," it's probably not what you learned in civics class.