R.I.P. Habeus Corpus, 1215 - 2006.

Washington Post:

President Bush this morning proudly signed into law a bill that critics consider one of the most un-American in the nation's long history.

The new law vaguely bans torture -- but makes the administration the arbiter of what is torture and what isn't. It allows the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant. It suspends the Great Writ of habeas corpus for detainees. It allows coerced testimony at trial. It immunizes retroactively interrogators who may have engaged in torture.


The president can now - with the approval of Congress - indefinitely hold people without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial based on hearsay evidence, authorize trials that can sentence people to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and slam shut the courthouse door for habeas petitions. Nothing could be further from the American values we all hold in our hearts than the Military Commissions Act.
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51 Responses:

  1. substitute says:

    Meathook & You: Partners in Freedom!

  2. dsgood says:

    I would love to see these rules applied to Federal impeachment.

  3. thedimka says:

    that's what reactionists do

  4. babbage says:

    Well, Habeas Corpus has been established for at least 800 years (it predates Magna Carta). Three times longer than the USA has been with us. I guess that Habeas Corpus will probably live another 800 years, too. Common Law is too influential for America's dumb example to lead to the loss of this cornerstone of liberty.

    Another reason not to live there. At least, not right now.

  5. flipzagging says:

    One of the terrorists believed to have planned the 9/11 attacks said he hoped the attacks would be the beginning of the end of America. He didn't get his wish.

    -- George W. Bush, upon signing the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law.

  6. merovingian says:

    I am an eternal optimist. Maybe the Supreme Court can save us.

  7. nightrider says:

    U.S. Constitution: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." (Article One, section nine).

    Ummm... Yeah, RIGHT.

    As Keith Olbermann pointed out earlier last week, the Bill of Rights has been abolished by the stroke of GWB's pen.

    This is only a very slight exaggeration. All but one of the items on the bill of rights has been affected by this new law. So, here's your new Bill of Rights, America:

    "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

    I think Jello Biafra put it best, "Welcome to nineteen eighty-four..."

    • naelp says:

      The US is under invasion by the terrorists, therefore it is permitted!

      • we are? where? who? where are they? what makes you a "terrorist?" This is the slippery slope we are on with this ACT and other laws passed since 9/11. The government can determine someone a terrorist/unlawful enemy combatant without presenting its case. It's guilty until proven innocent, not the other way around. And the problem with this is that your oppurtunity to prove yourself innocent is determined by who? Oh yeah, the government.

  8. jmissig says:

    the show with zefrank, 09-29-06

    "Yesterday's obituaries mourned the death of Sir Habeas Corpus.
    Born in the UK in 1679 to parents Mama and Magna Carta, Sir Corpus is said to have enjoyed horseback riding and Othello. Originally the King's bitch, Sir Corpus made his name by forcing prisoners to testify in pending trials.

    After a short but nearly fatal bout of colitis, he changed his strategy and began protecting individuals from arbitrary detention by the state.

    Having emigrated to the United States in the late 1700s, Mr. Corpus continued to argue that prisoners should have their day in court to determine whether they're being lawfully imprisoned.

    In recent years, Mr. Corpus' tactics of trying to protect the innocents have come under fire by the current White House. U.S. President Bush has referred to the elderly statesman as uppity and old-fashioned. Mr. Corpus is said to have been particularly upset by the recent deportation and torture of Canadian citizen Mr. Maher Arar. The U.S. sent Mr. Arar to Syria despite the fact that Canadian investigators said that they could find no evidence linking Mr. Arar to terrorist groups.

    Yesterday Mr. Habeas Corpus was found dead in his Washington apartment, having been stabbed sixty-five times in the back. Mr. Corpus leaves behind Mrs. Corpus and three hundred million children.

    Please send condolences and flowers to yourself."

  9. I've been pretty shocked at how few people know or care about this. My girlfriend even works with someone who tried to explain that it's all ok because it only applies to enemy combatants and non-citizens (that's me!).

    Oh well, there's still (a little) hope to be had if you look in the right places...

  10. edouardp says:

    Well it's not like this is the first time the President of the United States has removed Habeas Corpus. Licoln did it twice. Davis in the south did it too. And Wikipedia says that President Grant did as well.

    But, seriously, you only need to worry if you don't support the war. After all, what did that greatest of Americans, Abraham Lincoln, do? He merely rounded up thousands of anti-war protesters. Oh and anyone who opposed conscription. And, ahh, I believe, people who criticized the President's violation of the constituion.

    So nothing for all you loyal citizens to worry about then.

    I'm sure it'll be re-instated once you've won the War on Terror. How's that going for you, by the way?

    • treptoplax says:

      Lincoln? How about FDR? Japanese-American internment camps, anyone?

      • jkonrath says:

        I think the way they steered around the Habeus Corpus issue was that Executive Order 9066 doesn't imprison anyone, it just says that any people can't be in certain "military zones".

        Oh, and any=Japanese, military zone=west coast, and if you happen to be displaced, the government will give you a nice place to live (in a prison camp, which you can't leave.)

        An interesting trivia fact is that this order was in effect until 1976. So Nixon could have said universities are military zones and hippies should be put in camps, and that would have been technically legal.

    • darkengobot says:

      I'm not sure if it's useful to assume that GWB is planning on using this to round up the folks from Code Pink and ship them to Guantanamo to have bamboo splinters shoved under their fingernails. Most people see that as ridiculously reactionary and then dismiss the actual arguments against it, writing them off as the nuttery of a loon.

      Now that the deed is done, responses should be in terms of getting it in front of the SCOTUS with a rational argument of how it violates the Constitution. If it doesn't pass the SCOTUS, then by definition it's not un-Constitutional, and then energy is best spent on getting folks elected who will un-pass the bill.

      It's not sexy, but you have to keep your eye on the ball here.

      • okay, in order for it to get to SCOTUS someone on trial under it has to appeal and that appeal has to work its way up there at which point the court has to decide to hear the case and then has to decide to rule it unconstitutional.
        This will most likely not happen anytime soon as the way the ACT is structured, the appeals process is almost non existent and is done via military court not civilian court therefore in order to make it to SCOTUS there are more hoops the case and appeals process has to go through...

        • darkengobot says:

          Yeah, it's not going to be simple. Any effort to get it reviewed is also not going to be well supported, since the act basically says "enemy combatants who are not citizens do not get access to our civil justice system", which IMO is not a good idea--transparency in these things are a good thing--but a significant majority of people agree with it.

          I think this bill could have been a lot worse. It's not nearly as bad as I feared.

  11. siobhan1 says:

    Ok - this is the most depressing piece of news to read at 6.17 am, before breakfast.

    I mean - I'm glad to *know* it happened, but I'd rather it hadn't happened. Makes sense?

  12. transgress says:

    I'm not surprised, the bigger question though is, is bush to the US as ceasar was to rome?

    Also, Lincoln suspended habeus corpus during the civil war

    • deni_zen says:

      From what I've been told in history class, the reason hc was suspended after the civil war was to capture clansmen. The reason was because no one in the local southern community was going to out who was a clan member, so the only way they thought they could do it was just go in and capture the clansmen they suspected. Of course, I don't know how they proved they were clansmen, and frankly it sounds wrong to capture someone based on suspicion ... but it did end the clan for that time period (it has since had 2 versions appear, later). this is my understanding of one particular event.

      i do not think bush is a caesar. yet. he would need to bring the Praetorian Guard back to home soil. Well, wait, we do have homeland security... hmmm.

      • georgedorn says:

        If by 'clansmen' you mean 'klansmen', you'd be wrong, since the KKK didn't exist until after the civil war.

        There's pretty good evidence to suggest that MD was going to join the south. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and then arrested enough members of the MD legislature to ensure that the vote went against secession.

        • deni_zen says:

          I said after the civil war.

          But thank you for giving examples of how it was suspended during the CW. I didn't know that.

  13. They did it. The Terrorist won! They destroyed America, by making us so paranoid that we burned the rights our founding fathers died for. Thanks George Bush! Thanks Congress!

  14. 1eyedkunt says:

    what do you think the chances are that the dems put things back the way they were if/when they take the house and senate?

    • jwz says:

      I assume the Democratic Platform will remain what it has been for the last six years: "Not in the face, not in the face!"