Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Via Corrente via Atrios, we get Pat Leahy saying this:
For weeks now, politicians and the media have breathlessly debated the fine points and political implications of the so-called "compromise" on proposed trial procedures for suspected terrorists. In doing so, we have ignored a central and more sweeping issue. Important as the rules for military commissions are, they will apply to only a few cases. The administration has charged a total of 10 people in the nearly five years since the president declared his intention to use military commissions, and it recently announced plans to charge 14 additional men. But for the vast majority of the almost 500 prisoners at Guantánamo, the administration’s position remains as stated by Secretary Donald Rumsfeld three years ago: It has no interest in trying them.

Today we are belatedly addressing the single most consequential provision of this much-discussed bill, a provision that can be found buried on page 81 of the proposed bill. This provision would perpetuate the indefinite detention of hundreds of individuals against whom the government has brought no charges and presented no evidence, without any recourse to justice whatsoever. That is un-American, and it is contrary to American interests.

Going forward, the bill departs even more radically from our most fundamental values. It would permit the president to detain indefinitely—even for life—any alien, whether in the United States or abroad, whether a foreign resident or a lawful permanent resident, without any meaningful opportunity for the alien to challenge his detention. The administration would not even need to assert, much less prove, that the alien was an enemy combatant; it would suffice that the alien was "awaiting [a] determination" on that issue. In other words, the bill would tell the millions of legal immigrants living in America, participating in American families, working for American businesses, and paying American taxes, that our government may at any minute pick them up and detain them indefinitely without charge, and without any access to the courts or even to military tribunals, unless and until the government determines that they are not enemy combatants.
The most important purpose of habeas corpus is to correct errors like that. It is precisely to prevent such abuses that the Constitution prohibits the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus "unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." I have no doubt that this bill, which would permanently eliminate the writ of habeas for all aliens within and outside the United States whenever the government says they might be enemy combatants, violates that prohibition. And I have no doubt that the Supreme Court would ultimately conclude that this attempt by the Bush-Cheney administration to abolish basic liberties and evade essential judicial review and accountability is unconstitutional.
The administration’s sudden and belated haste to move ahead makes no sense, other than as a matter of crass electoral politics. We are taking a first look at a bill that the administration claims is central to the decisive ideological battle of the 21st Century, a bill that would suspend habeas corpus for the first time since the Civil War, and a bill that, if enacted, will almost certainly be used by America’s enemies as a pretext for the torture and indefinite detention without judicial review of Americans abroad.

If the administration and the Republican leadership of the Senate believe that suspending the writ is constitutional and justified, they should grant the joint request that Chairman Specter and I made last week for a sequential referral of the bill. Constitutional issues involving the writ of habeas corpus are at the center of this Committee’s jurisdiction. We can and should review this legislation thoroughly, and if a few habeas petitions are filed in the meantime, we will not lose the War on Terror as a result of those filings. If this Congress votes to suspend the writ of habeas corpus first and ask questions later, liberty and accountability will be the victims.

Now those are the words of a true patriot, not some dickhead named Dick or George or Don or Condi. Emphasis added.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dick, George, Don and the ever lovely Condi are still dickheads as of September 27, 2006 and it seems they will continue for the forseeable future.