Andy McCarthy at the National Review has an interesting article (hat tip: Tigerhawk) on the source of terrorist rights under detention, saying they arise not from the Constitution but from statute. He argues that it is consequently well within Congress' power to regulate their detention. He slams the critics of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 saying "Congress has already given al Qaeda detainees the very rights the critics claim have been denied.". As they say, read the whole thing. In a related development, 10 Federal penitentiaries have admitted that they are unable to screen the thousands of pieces of mail that convicted terrorists send and receive because they lack the budget to hire translators.
The seriousness of the situation was brought home by the fact that convicted terrorists in US prisons were found to be corresponding with the Madrid train bombers. The Associated Press/Breitbart reports:
Mail for convicted terrorists and other dangerous federal inmates isn't being fully read by prison authorities, and that is a risk to national security, a Justice Department review concluded Tuesday. ... "The threat remains that terrorist and other high-risk inmates can use mail and verbal communications to conduct terrorist or criminal activities while incarcerated," concluded the report by Inspector General .... But it is largely too cash- strapped to afford enough staff to sort through the thousands of letters ... what Bureau of Prisons Director Harley G. Lappin described to inspectors as searching for "a needle in a haystack."
Experts fear that a new generation of homegrown terrorists is being bred in prison and, after release, they will seek guidance from Islamic extremists still behind bars. The Justice Department's mail investigation was spurred, in part, after three convicted terrorists at a federal maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., were found to have written an estimated 90 letters between 2002 and 2004 to Islamic extremists some with links to the March 11, 2004, attacks on commuter trains in Madrid. Some of the letters later surfaced in the hands of a terror suspect who used them to recruit suicide operatives. ... Limited funding, in the face of a growing inmate population, has hindered those efforts, the inspector general's report concluded. About 10 percent of an estimated 191,000 federal inmates, as of July, are considered high risk. The number of high-risk inmates has grown by 60 percent over the last decade; by contrast, federal prisons' staff increased by 14 percent, from an estimated 30,200 to 34,600.