Trump: Americans May Be Tried In Military Tribunals Under His Administration

495px-Donald_Trump_by_Gage_SkidmoreCamp_x-ray_detaineesI have long been a critic of military tribunals as constitutionally dubious and practically ineffectual institutions. The tribunals at Guantanamo Bay have resulted in few actual trials and undermined the standing of the United States as a nation committed to the rule of law. The principle rationale cited by former officials in defense of Gitmo has been that it would not be used to try citizens. Now in a deeply disturbing interview, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has stated that he might try citizens at Gitmo — maintaining a shadow court system for stripping citizens of basic rights of due process just a few miles off the United States shore.

As an attorney who has long practiced in the national security field (including terrorism cases), the tribunal system has never made a great deal of sense to me. Federal courts have long tried terrorists and the government has a high success rate in such cases. The creation of a faux court system only gives our enemies a rallying cry and fuels those who to call us hypocrites.

Those concerns are magnified by Trump’s dismissal of any distinction between citizens and non-citizens in the use of such tribunals. In an interview with the Miami Herald on Thursday, Trump was asked if he would use the tribunals against U.S. citizens. Trump responded: “Well, I know that they want to try them in our regular court systems, and I don’t like that at all. I don’t like that at all. I would say they could be tried there, that would be fine.”

That may be fine in Trump’s view but it would also be unconstitutional. Presidents are not allowed to create alternative court systems for denying citizens of core rights at their discretion. Such a Caesar-like role runs against the very grain of the American constitutional system. The statement by Trump reflects a disconcerting lack of faith in our court system and a fundamental misunderstanding of the limits placed upon presidents in our constitutional system.

What do you think?

84 thoughts on “Trump: Americans May Be Tried In Military Tribunals Under His Administration

  1. @Prairie Rose

    Under the federal estate tax, there is a special provision to protect family farms. I believe it is section 6166 of the Internal Revenue Code. If the farm is owned by a married couple, no estate taxes are paid until the second spouse passes. Then, any estate taxes that might be owed (assuming the farm is worth more than the $5 million exemption), can be paid off over, I believe it is 15 years, at a 4% interest rate. And they get to deduct the interest, much like our mortgage interest is deducted, so it ends up probably being about 2.5% interest. It’s actually a very favorable provision, so the estate tax has very little impact on farms. But people who are opposed to estate taxes falsely claim it is destroying family farming because politically, that’s a more appealing argument than saying that an heiress like Paris Hilton should get to live off her grandfather’s billions and never work a day in her life or pay any taxes on her massive windfall.

    Many farms are sold after the parents pass away, however, because the younger generation isn’t interested. Farming is hard work, and the kids are more likely to want to live in the city and work a 9 to 5 job. Plus they want the farm sold so they can each get their share of the inheritance. That’s what happened with my grandparent’s farm. It wasn’t subject to estate tax because the value didn’t exceed the exemption, but it was sold because none of the kids or grandkids wanted to be farmers, and the farm land was worth more as a future housing development.

  2. @Autumn,

    Boy do I wish someone would pay me to call out every stupid, racist, violent, misogynistic, politically or diplomatically disastrous thing Trump had said, because I could retire! And if they had paid me for commenting on all his skeevy business deals, people he had cheated, failed businesses, and crappy stuff he manufactures overseas, why I probably have more money than he does.

    Bus seriously, if I could get paid for calling out this disaster of a human being? I’d quit my job and do it full time.

  3. @ phillyT Strange these posters think one would need to be paid to call out Trump for his disastrous campaign and business practices. Seems like many consider it their civic duty to shed some light on this psychopath. Why is is hiding his tax returns?

    • Simon – why doesn’t the State Dept give up the rest of Hillary’s emails and why doesn’t she give up the recorded copies of her speeches? And she needs to give up the donors actual donations for the Clinton Foundation.

  4. @Simon,

    I know, right? Trump is worried that people will find out he has a LOT less money than he says, and that his fake net worth is bolstered by his valuing of his name at $8-10 billion, which it is clearly not.

    Otherwise, it may be his connection to the Russians (someone please go ahead and praise Putin, Trump’s psychopathic brother from another mother), or the fact that he squeaked out of paying taxes because of all the jobs he has shipped overseas or some other things that will demonstrate what a total sham his campaign is.

    And speaking of getting paid, where are those sweet, sweet Soros dollars I’m supposed to be getting?

  5. Squeeky,
    I cannot, in good conscience, vote for either Clinton or Trump. I will write in None of the above, since that is the only way my voice might be heard.

    Saying people are bashing Trump makes it sound as though you think it is unjustified, that he cannot be criticized. Is donating to the Clinton Foundation worthy of criticism and concern?

    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/donald-trump-donations-democrats-hillary-clinton-119071

    What if Trump is saying and doing all this to get a woman who attended his wedding elected, the wife of his golf buddy, the mother of his daughter’s friend? What if this was a massive favor?

    She is unelectable. She needs a foil who presents himself as even more unelectable.

  6. @Prairie Rose

    I see it as, a vote for anybody other than Trump is a vote for Hillary. I think all the “Trump is as bad as Hillary” talk, is a Democratic tactic designed to blunt the effect of running a corrupt, pathological narcissist like Hillary for President!

    So far, the only problem I see with Trump is that he speaks before he thinks, sometimes. But I would rather have that than the carefully scripted creatures who usually run. I also think Trump is a genuinely decent individual at heart. I never thought that about Hillary, even when I supported her.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. Squeeky,
    “a vote for anybody other than Trump is a vote for Hillary”

    My husband would say the same thing.

    Does that mean discussing problems with Trump is forbidden? I have real concerns about Trump, just as I do about Clinton.

  8. @PrairieRose

    I don’t forbid anything because it isn’t my website. If it was, I still wouldn’t forbid anything. I don’t care what other people say about Trump. Criticisms are either true and make sense, or they don’t. The Truth is my friend! And Trump’s!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. I apologize, Squeeky. The word forbidden was a poor choice of words. You are pretty free-wheeIing when it comes to discussions. Sorry.

    Apparently I should not try to write responses to posts on my phone. I did not give my response the same degree of attention that I typically try to do when I type on my laptop.

  10. Sorry TIN, back at 5:39 PM. I agree. Putin is looking after Russia. We’ve boxed them in and put a tripwire in front of them. Evidently, there are many people still who all we need is a situational ethic, and that is good enough to vilify anyone these days. And like Putin hacked the democrats… that server was there there for the pickens’. I’m sure those emails have been floating around all over the place for years. And, once again, for people who just don’t seem to understand (once again, no real Trump supporter here…) Trump is TALK. The duopoly is ACTION. It has blood on its hands worldwide, with only designs on how to do more. Didn’t your mothers ever tell you there is a difference between someone who talks a lot as opposed to someone that actually does something to you? But it’s OK, just continue to be an apologist for your particular team. They like that. They won’t reward you, but they do like that.

  11. Praire Rose writes, “Steve Groen, I thought one of the problems with the Estate Tax was that it made passing down the family farm nearly impossible/unaffordable. Did that get fixed? Not sure what the average farm estate is worth nowadays.”

    Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you until now.

    As for the family farm, having been born and reared in mostly in the city and suburbs and gone to high school in Iowa, I’ve seen both sides (to some degree anyway) of the problem with farming as a career. In short, I’ve never really been able to grasp the violin and the bow at the same time, however.

    In other words, apart from farming being for many a blue-collar, hardtack, lifestyle choice, and putting aside that it has several unique advantages that many city dwellers would choose without a second thought if given the opportunity for such independence, no crime, and a quiet night’s sleep, the difficulty with “passing down the family farm” when federal taxation isn’t triggered until attaining an estate value of $5.43M for a single individual and $10.86M for a married couple (thanks to Old McDonald for the link) is not on my hot list of taxes to eliminate or decrease. Along the same lines as the carryover interest for hedge fund managers (which significantly reduces what is otherwise ordinary taxation on income from their commissions to the level of capital gains), if someone has an estate worth $5.43M, the amount of the tax is much lower than it used to be. (I don’t know what Iowa’s estate tax amounts to or what the threshold is for triggering it, and each state is different.) I think wealth disparity in this country is a proper basis for imposing the tax. As the majority of city dwellers whether an estate tax when they have $5.43M in assets less debts in their estate bothers them.

    There are many who believe that the so-called “American Dream” is a fresh start without a legacy. That would mean a 100% estate tax. (Personally, I’m not quite yet riding on that haywagon.) Right out of the gates, kids born in the ghetto certainly aren’t similarly situated financially from those who’ve just been handed down the family’s 1,000-acre corn or dairy farm. To impose a 100% estate tax, others argue, would void all of their hard work (and inheritance from their ancestors). What they’re really saying is that it would impose too much fairness, and allow only skin color and one’s parents’ guidance and lots of luck as their only advantages. And they want advantages in this system. The government consuming their entire estates in tax was what gave us the life insurance industry for the wealthy to avoid the penalty to one’s legacy.

    Others, like me, believe they’ve seen enough poverty in their own families and neighborhoods (and throughout the world, for that matter), to eliminate the estate tax and have a harsh view of the complainants with over $10M on their balance sheets. Donald Trump, looking for a tax to eliminate, picked the one that most affects him. He’s such an ordinary people sort of guy.

    I don’t see how anything other than a graduated system of estate taxation is appropriate unless one wants to continue a system which promotes wealth disparity and the resulting unfair advantage bought and paid for by the wealthy.

    • Steve – poverty is not a life-long occupation. You can work your way out of poverty and into the middle-class, in some cases, the upper-class. Eliminating the estate tax completely, both state and federal would help.

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