Seizing Dictatorial Power Seizing Dictatorial Power

By WILLIAM SAFIRE

ASHINGTON — Misadvised by a frustrated and panic-stricken attorney general, a president of the United States has just assumed what amounts to dictatorial power to jail or execute aliens. Intimidated by terrorists and inflamed by a passion for rough justice, we are letting George W. Bush get away with the replacement of the American rule of law with military kangaroo courts.

In his infamous emergency order, Bush admits to dismissing “the principles of law and the rules of evidence” that undergird America’s system of justice. He seizes the power to circumvent the courts and set up his own drumhead tribunals — panels of officers who will sit in judgment of non-citizens who the president need only claim “reason to believe” are members of terrorist organizations.

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