Abusing language to abuse people

I’m “stunned”:

Republican lawmakers and the White House agreed over the weekend to alter new legislation on military commissions to allow the United States to detain and try a wider range of foreign nationals than an earlier version of the bill permitted, according to government sources.

Lawmakers and administration officials announced last week that they had reached accord on the plan for the detention and military trials of suspected terrorists, and it is scheduled for a vote this week. But in recent days the Bush administration and its House allies successfully pressed for a less restrictive description of how the government could designate civilians as “unlawful enemy combatants,” the sources said yesterday. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of negotiations over the bill.

We don’t believe in enumerated powers or a limited executive any longer, so why bother with descriptions of who qualifies as an “unlawful enemy combatant”? We can trust the benevolence and good intentions of whichever administration occupies the White House to not abuse its allegedly plenary power. It’s worked well so far.

Is it January 2009 yet?