Ok, enough of the Blogosphere's irrational fascination with Paul Krugman. (The explanation's pretty simple: Krugman consistently criticizes Bush, therefore he's wrong, and therefore economists don't like him). On to more interesting topics.
Atrios has been asking a lot of uncomfortable questions about the "dirty bomber", and they're questions that deserve answering. Even if this guy is an "enemy combatant" he's also an American citizen, and it's pretty obvious by now that the rights that those citizens enjoy are pretty much out the window at this point when it comes to this guy. While understandable, it's a pretty clear violation of the principles that the United States was built on. Not just the idea of individual rights, but the role of government in protecting those rights. Most of the liberal political philosophers (such as John Locke) whose works the United States' government are built on agreed that the entire point of government was to take action against those who declare a "state of war" with the citizens that granted their power to protect their rights to that government in the first place. There is little distinction made between the state of war against renegade citizens and foreign opponents; both are either violating or threatening the violation of the rights of the citizens, and are therefore fair game. Yes, this includes criminals.
Why does this matter?
Because it means that the sole reason that renegade citizens are treated any differently is because they are citizens. Their "state of war" with the state and the citizenry is no different, but as a member of the society they have rights that cannot be ignored. Whether this fellow is an "enemy combatant" or not is immaterial, because all criminals are at some level enemies of the state... that's why they're criminals. The only difference is that he has rights that must be respected whether the state wishes it or not; it's part of the deal by which the state gets its power in the first place. The state has no right to pick and choose what kind of enemy gets rights and what kind doesn't. The scary part is that up until this came out it seemed like the U.S. government understood this, but now it looks like all questions of rights and propriety are out the window. If a right isn't respected when it's inconvenient for the government, it isn't being respected at all. (How could it exist otherwise?) Yes, folks, that means that your rights are being ignored. Not just his. Not just the immigrants that are in holding because they have the wrong complexion, the wrong friends, and/or immigration issues. Yours.