By: Dana EdwardsWhat you need to know about:Tue Aug 28, 2007 23:17
What you need to know about: the Military Commissions Act of 2006
By: Dana Edwards
The first seven years of the new millennium have been simultaneously cheerful and tragic; encompassing human triumph and tremendous loss. While Americans have been focusing on rebuilding our spirit from Sept. 11, saying goodbye to troops bound for Iraq, and deciphering an enigmatic presidency, something has slipped under our noses.
The Military Commissions Act of 2006, passed on Sept. 28, is an act that is unequivocally unconstitutional, and it has the potential to destroy everything Americans stand for.
When reading the MCA of 2006, nothing appears to be wrong. The purpose of the act is to deal with "unlawful enemy combatants," or supposed terrorists.
Section 948a defines an unlawful enemy combatant as, "a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States."
What Congress fails to say is one way a person can be convicted of being an unlawful enemy combatant is through hearsay evidence, or rumors. The slightest finger pointing can result in a conviction in a court of law.
The act goes on to detail what happens to an accused unlawful enemy combatant. The detainee's constitutional right to Habeas Corpus, or right to challenge detention, is revoked. The detainee cannot call on the Geneva Conventions, a code of treatment for those during times of warfare, to save them.
Basically, the detainee is stripped of rights.
This means that in a worse case scenario, an innocent man could be held in a prison for an indefinite amount of time without charge, and without the right to challenge his detention. If the trial ever goes to court, the detainee does not have the right to choose their representation.
Furthermore, death sentences can be handed down to those who are found guilty of crimes.
So not only does this act allow an innocent man to be found guilty on baseless charges, it allows them to die a traitor's death for it.
AmnestyInternational.org, a website comprised of those who campaign for international human rights, wrote an article stating, "The past five years have seen the U.S. engage in systematic violations of international law, with a distressing impact on thousands of detainees and their families. Human rights violations have included: Secret detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, including humiliating treatment, denial and restriction of habeas corpus, indefinite detention without charge or trial, unfair trial procedures."
How Congress ever voted this act into law is beyond my comprehension- who exactly, in this war on terror, are we fighting against? Since when are human lives allowed to be thrust into the hands of our sovereign leader, with unchecked authority over who lives and who dies?
This act is a warning sign; a red flag signaling that we are all criminals in the president's eye. We are all vulnerable. The iron fist of the MCA can come down on anyone, at anytime.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this act being implemented is not what is in it, but what it paved the way for. The future laws that follow this act can be even more heinous.
Many in the government, as well as citizens, have been vying for a repeal of the act, which is the only real solution to the problem.
If Congress recognizes the mistake they made, they will be forever double checking the fine print in the laws they pass. All we have to do now is wait- wait for the repeal, wait for change in power, and wait for the injustices to be righted.
The year 2008 can not come soon enough. © Copyright 2007 The West Georgian
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