Bush’s new assault on democracy: Habeas Corpus stabbed in the back

The US Senate, through a Bush ally, has overturned habeas corpus, the bedrock of English and American law for eight centuries that allows a prisoner to challenge his detention in court, for Guantanamo "detainees."

The Graham amendment will create a thousand points of darkness across the globe where the United States will be free to hold people indefinitely without a hearing and beyond the reach of U.S. law and the checks and balances of the courts enshrined in our Constitution. The last time this country suspended habeas corpus was for the internment of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II, a travesty that is now universally recognized as a blot on our nation’s history. The purpose of the writ of habeas corpus has always been to relieve those wrongfully held from the oppression of unchecked executive power.  The most reliable way to determine whether someone is properly held or a victim of injustice is to have a right to judicial review of the detention. This has been understood at least since the proclamation of the Magna Carta in 1215.

As has been the practice of this Administration, this latest scheme was accomplished stealthily and in secret. The Center for Constitutional Rights vows to continue to fight for the rule of law.  We will not allow American democracy to be eroded a little at a time, until, finally looking around, we can longer recognize what has become of this democratic nation. 

"First they came for the detainees, and I did nothing because I was not a detainee.." 

Update: From Sue who found the actual act online  (They don’t make it easy — it’s a treasure hunt, you can’t link to anything)

The 2006 military & defense appropriations bill – a mixed & interesting  bag:

Requires reports on secret worldwide detention facilities: 

(1) Report required.–Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall provide to the members of the Select  Committee on Intelligence of the Senate and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives a detailed report setting forth the nature and cost of, and otherwise providing a full accounting on, any clandestine prison or detention facility currently or formerly operated by the United States Government, regardless of location, where detainees in the global war on terrorism are or were being held.

(2) Elements.–The report required by paragraph (1) shall set forth, for each prison or facility, if any, covered by such report, the following:

(A) The location and size of such prison or facility.
(B) If such prison or facility is no longer being operated by the United States government, the disposition of such prison or facility.
(C) The number of detainees currently held or formerly held, as the case may be, at such prison or facility.
(D) Any plans for the ultimate disposition of any detainees currently held at such prison or facility.
(E) A description of the interrogation procedures used or formerly used on detainees at such prison or facility.

(3) Form of report.–The report required by paragraph (1) shall be submitted in classified form.

Requires the Secretary of Defense to establish a interrogation policy vis-à-vis the role of military doctors and psychologists:

Policy on role of military medical and behavioral science personnel in interrogation of detainees (sec. 1071).

The committee recommends a provision that would require the Secretary of Defense to establish a uniform policy on the role of military medical and behavioral science personnel in interrogation of persons detained by the Armed Forces. The committee expects that in the development of the policy, the Department of Defense will seek the views of medical and behavioral health experts outside of the Department, including medical and behavioral science personnel, physicians, nurses, and psychologists; and scholars in medical ethics–scholars with civilian backgrounds.

The committee is aware that the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) has directed a policy review of the role of medical personnel in detainee operations, including humane medical treatment of detainees, reporting of alleged abuses, and maintenance of medical records. In addition, the committee is aware that the Surgeon General of the Army has directed an assessment of the role of medical personnel in detainee operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The committee is concerned that the February 2005 report of Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, III, on Department of Defense detention operations, found that `since neither the Geneva Conventions nor U. S. military medical doctrine specifically address the issue of behavioral science personnel assisting interrogators in developing interrogation strategies, this practice has evolved in an ad hoc manner.’ The committee concurs with the need for clarity on the role and status of medical personnel in interrogations, and believes that the Secretary should promptly address this issue.

Eliminates that pesky habeus corpus thang – but establishes a "no torture" provision:

(a) Submittal of Procedures for Status Review of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.–Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees, and to the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and the House of Representatives, a report setting forth the procedures of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals and the noticed Administrative Review Boards in operation at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for determining the status of the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

(b) Procedures.–The procedures submitted to Congress pursuant to subsection (a) shall, with respect to proceedings beginning after the date of the submittal of such procedures under that subsection, ensure that–

(1) in making a determination of status of any detainee under such procedures, a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or Administrative Review Board may not consider statements derived from persons that, as determined by such Tribunal or Board, by the preponderance of the evidence, were obtained with undue coercion; and
 (2) the Designated Civilian Official shall be an officer of the United States Government whose appointment to office was made by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.    

(c) Report on Modification of Procedures.–The Secretary of Defense shall submit to the committees of Congress referred to in subsection (a) a report on any modification of the procedures submitted under subsection (a) not later than 30 days before the date on which such modifications go into effect.

(d) Judicial Review of Detention of Enemy Combatants.    

(1) In general.–Section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following: "(e) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien outside the United States (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(38) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(38)) who is detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

It also makes sure armed forces recruiters don’t overlook the home schooled and limits abortions for servicewomen in some way – I think they have to use their own funds and can only have abortions performed at medical facilities in the U.S.  Still untangling the amendments on this one.

  • Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    I don’t care much about the welfare of anyone
    who is really a terrorist, but these policies
    of the current federal administration are
    potentially endangering our own troops.

    What reason could there be for the federal
    government to not charge these detainees?
    Have they lost the evidence? That wouldn’t surprise me.
    Sure, some were picked up on the battle field.
    We know some are guilty. Let’s charge them and deal with
    them one way or another. Perhaps they belong in jail for
    the rest of their life.

    This is just another abuse of power.
    The only way we will ever resolve this and
    our many problems
    is to do the one thing we were supposed to be doing all along.

  • Joe Hartley

    Look on the bright side. At some point, Bush will be out of office. When he and the neocons are all declared enemy combatants (i.e., refusing to wear uniforms while seeking the destruction of the United States–particularly apt for these chicken hawks who were too busy to serve in Vietnam, don’t you think?), they can disappear down some rathole and ponder the old aphorism that “what goes around, comes around.”

  • What goes around, seems to keep coming around and around.
    It’s like wiping your butt on a spinning wagon wheel.
    The $#!+ just keeps comin’ around.

    The incumbents in D.C. just keep taking turns, gettin’ theirs,
    votin’ for pork-barrel, graft, waste, and corruption, and
    ignoring the voters. There is no longer a balance of power
    between government and The People.

    There’s an easy way to solve this any many problems.
    It’s the most simple, easy, non-partisan, responsible,
    safe, inexpensive, peaceful, and responsible thing
    The People can do to peacefully force government to
    be responsible and accountable too. and its
    affiliates are dedicated to making this happen.
    But The People must choose.
    Do they want to keep doing it the hard, painful way?
    Or, do they want to do it the smart way?
    How? Simply by doing the one simple thing we,
    The People, were supposed to be doing all along.
    ” The Status Quo is the Foe !

  • D.A.N, Your comment was interesting although it appeared naive and altruistic. I checked out that VOIDnow site you linked to, and I must confess, if there is anything that would force gov’t. to be accountable and responsible to voters, a movement amongst voters like those VOIDers talk about, would be it.

    But, saying it is simple and easy is a lie. VOID is going nowhere unless people donate money and effort and time to their cause. And in today’s environment, everyone is dedicated to donating their money and time to either the Democrats or the Republicans. Doesn’t leave much left over some new anti-incumbency movement, does it?

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