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"Military Courts and Congress" By Mumia Abu-Jamal

by Mumia Abu-Jamal Friday, Jan. 18, 2002 at 5:12 AM

In the aftermath of 9/11/01, the Bush Administration has announced plans to form, staff and adjudicate military tribunals to try anyone the U.S. deems a "terrorist." These courts will be presided over by military officers, as will any appeals process, with the final arbiter, either the defense secretary or the president, ending the case.


(Col. Writ. 12/29/01) Copyright 2001 Mumia Abu-Jamal

In the aftermath of 9/11/01, the Bush Administration has

announced plans to form, staff and adjudicate military

tribunals to try anyone the U.S. deems a "terrorist." These

courts will be presided over by military officers, as will

any appeals process, with the final arbiter, either the

defense secretary or the president, ending the case.

No civil judge, of any division or rank of the federal

judiciary, will ever hear any syllable of appeal from

anyone tried before such a tribunal.

So frenzied is the American mood, so supine the

liberal elite, and so prostrate the nation's legal community

to power, that barely a murmur is heard in protest to this

gross, naked power grab by the Administration.

It is not enough that the institution of such courts are

the very antithesis to the grand American claim to

"due process." Nor is it sufficient to argue that such war

measures are inappropriate in the absence of a formal,

congressional declaration of war (this Congress would

have no real trouble doing so). This Congress, already

jittery in light of reports of anthrax contamination of some

offices, rushed through in record speed (with little debate,

no public hearing, and neither a committee report nor a

conference) the unprecedented, complex, and radically

repressive USA Patriot Act.

The presidential decree ordering military tribunals is,

on its face, unconstitutional. Indeed, the very provision

which grants the president Commander In Chief powers,

also limits his powers over judicial matters. Here's what

it says:

[Art. II: Sect. 2, Constitution of the U.S.]

The President shall be Commander in Chief of

the Army and Navy of the United States, ... He

shall have Power, by and with the Advice and

Consent of the Senate ...; and he shall

nominate, and by and with the Advice and

Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges

of the Supreme Court ...

And from Article III; Section 1 of the Constitution:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall

be vested in one supreme Court, and in such

inferior Courts as the Congress may from

time to time ordain and establish.

There it is. The president, acting in concert

with the Senate, nominates and appoints Supreme

Court judges, and Congress ordains and establishes

new courts.

Congress can't abdicate this duty to the executive.

The president's order establishes a court, one which

has all of its officers under his direct control and

command. This is a classic kangaroo court, of the

very kind that Americans condemned when the Fujimori

regime established them in Peru (interestingly, to fight


Nor is this meant to heap false praise on U.S.

civil courts, which are fundamentally political

institutions. Have we all forgotten the trial of Tim

McVeigh, the domestic terrorist, where it was later

learned that the FBI withheld thousands of pages of

documents, until days before his execution? Civil

courts merely winked at this violation, as a minor


And while the government had its way (by

executing McVeigh) it was embarrassed by

reports of their handling of the case. That won't

happen now, will it?

Under the Bush Administration, military tribunals

serve as an instrument of administrative whim.

Under the command structure of the military, each

judge, each jury, each prosecutor, and each court

officer is a sworn officer of the military, in the sworn

service of the Commander in Chief. If they want to

further their career in the armed services, even if

they ever wanted promotion, they follow their

administrative cues. What do you think they would

do to a foreign national, who is already tagged as

"the enemy"?

With either Bush, the Secretary of Defense, or

even another military panel serving as a Supreme

Court of Appeals, what would be the result?

But, after all, the accused are (to use the term of

popular appeal) 'sand niggers' (the Brits would call

them 'wogs'), Arabs, Pakistanis, a few Afghans - so,

why care?

The same was said in the '20s when Russian

Jews were exiled from the U.S. after the Palmer

Raids, or in the '40s when Japanese were thrown

into concentration camps; they're just 'commie Jews',

or 'slants' - right?

Such events were said to be separate, involving

'others', yet they tainted the judicial process and

U.S. claims of fair play, up to the present generation.

Let us fight this madness, or it will return to haunt

us all.

Copyright 2001 maj




International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ

P.O. Box 19709

Philadelphia, PA 19143

Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180/ E-mail -


Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal

AM 8335


175 Progress Drive

Waynesburg, PA 15370



This column may be reprinted and/or distributed by

electronic means, but only for non-commercial use, and

only with the inclusion of the following copyright


Text (c) copyright 2001 by Mumia Abu-Jamal. All rights

reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.


Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books: 'Live

from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things


Write to Mumia directly at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335


175 Progress Drive

Waynesburg, PA 15370

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