Monday, March 05, 2007

Habeas Corpus - Why Congress Must Act

A great article from Aziz Huq, found on the Thomas Paine website, Habeas Corpus Can't Wait

Delay in the day of reckoning occurred not due to the detainees’ lawyers, but through a series of increasingly reckless maneuvers by the administration and its lawyers to avoid any review of the factual grounds for detention. First the government argued that Guantánamo was not part of the United States, and the president’s sweeping judgment that anyone picked up by the CIA from Bosnia to Pakistan via Thailand must be an “enemy combatant,” and therefore undeserving of any judicial solicitude. Then there were legislative efforts, in the form of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act and the 2006 Military Commissions Act, to stymie review.

It is important again to emphasize that what the government has sought to avoid is not simple “release.” What the D.C. Circuit held last week was that the Military Commission Act stripped the courts of power even to hear the detainees’ pleas. And at best the Supreme Court will determine that the detainees have a right under the Constitution to be heard. None will necessarily be released. None will even immediately get a day in court. The best case scenario is that the mere prospect of review will push the government into moving forward with releases.

But this is not enough. To understand why, look at the section of Guantánamo called Camp Six. Camp Six is the “more comfortable” facility in which detainees who have been “cleared” are held. As James Cohen’s recent account for the National Law Journal makes clear, detainees in Camp Six are kept in cells with walls, floors and ceilings of solid metal for 22 hours a day, denied natural light or air and have virtually no contact with human beings other than guards. Conditions are worse than any Supermax facility in the United States.

Thus, it is not sufficient to ensure that the detainees have their day in court. Even those who the government concedes to be innocent of any terrorist involvement are still kept in brutalizing and inhumane conditions. A comprehensive solution to the Guantánamo problem requires much more. And, acting alone, the courts have only limited capacity to that end.

So Congress too must act, and there is much that it can do now. The court proceedings are no cause for delay. A comprehensive solution necessarily involves multiple branches of government, and the sooner legislators act, the sooner America can remove the moral stain of Guantánamo from its plate.

I can only concur.


the zoom said...

I listened to a speech from a former congressman where he preached how bad the Republicans are in communicating there message to their base and to the public, and how the public does not know anything about what the republicans got done in the 109th congress. And while he was going on about the issues that the Republicans got done, he was also talking about the "earmarks". He explained to the conservative crowd, that "earmarks are les than one tenth of a percent of the federal budget" witch is a stunning fact that makes me wonder why this is the concern of our time in the conservative community.

As he finished his speech, I walked up to him and told him "Mr. Congressman, I might be wrong but I recall reading an article in the Wall St. Journal, about an official in CO criticizing an earmark that Sen. Allard (R-CO) inserted in a spending bill, saying that it takes away the money the State gets from the federal government." So I asked the Hon. Congressman "Is it true that when a congressman or senator inserts an earmark in a spending bill, he does not raise spending? That he just takes away the liberty from one bureaucrat to decide how to spend the money and decides himself where the money should go?"

The answer was yes.

So if earmarks do not raise spending and it's not more then one tenth of one percent of the budget, why is there so much noise about it?

Because we do not communicate, and nobody amongst us is aware of the facts. We have to start communicating, and shouldn't be afraid that someone will slam us, because if you fight back, you have a chance of winning, and if you don’t fight you don’t even have a chance of winning.

imsmall said...


Intelligence officials as
Commit torture may have
An amnesty--say a free pass--
Habeas in its grave:

As it were proper place for corpus
While Congress did allow it;
Iniquities with speed of porpoise
And politics did cow it,

That principle of legal right
Subsumed to ends expedient,
Affirming so that might makes right,
Without other ingredient.

Yet, as did the Athenians
Admire the ways of Sparta,
So we, for our convenience
Repeal the Magna Carta.

The principles of law as have
Evolved with thought and care,
Trial and error, none would save,
Preciptiously to dare

Revoke them with a thoughtless act--
Say "we are under war"--
The Constitution to retract
If line by line. How far

From that by which the early framers
Had been conceived--they were
Yet confident without disclaimers
Such writ none ought inter.

Habeas corpus they enshrined
While we make for embalming,
"Terror" our law has undermined
We say, as past becalming.

Ours is a "special circumstance"
From their conditions far
Removed, we say, but at a glance
Know too familiar

They were with war and terror, even
Knew more of it than we,
Who only know what Channel Seven
Reported on TV.