Google News Alert for:
Military Commissions Act of 2006
Sat Dec 2, 2006 01:25

Google News Alert for: Military Commissions Act of 2006

Killing Habeas Corpus
Secrecy News - Washington,DC,USA
... of how easy it can be to disable even the most elementary constitutional protections, Congress enacted the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which would ...

Torture, Geneva Conv. & the School of the Americas (press release) - New Zealand
... Now the US Congress, through the 2006 Military Commissions Act, has undercut the important provisions of the Geneva Conventions forbidding torture by ...

Nat Hentoff: Mandate for the new Democratic majority: Curb the ...
Baltimore Examiner - Baltimore,MD,USA
... abroad for interrogation — has already protected its interrogators with provisions he and Dick Cheney inserted into the Military Commissions Act of 2006. ...

Jordan River Forum
Indiana Daily Student - USA
By Letters to the Editor | Indiana Daily Student | Thursday, November 30, 2006. ... doesn't know why Democrats might oppose the Military Commissions Act and renewal ...

Killing Habeas Corpus

Habeas corpus refers to the right of a person who has been detained by the government to challenge his detention in a court of law. Although the U.S. Constitution does not permit the suspension of habeas corpus except in case of invasion or rebellion, last September Congress did so anyway at the behest of the Bush Administration.

In a startling display of how easy it can be to disable even the most elementary constitutional protections, Congress enacted the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which would deprive suspected enemy combatants held abroad of their ability to seek judicial review of their status.

Proposed limits on habeas corpus were the subject of an intense and contentious hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee recently, the record of which has just been published.

See "Examining Proposals to Limit Guantanamo Detainees' Access to Habeas Corpus Review," Senate Judiciary Committee, September 25.

Some of the more electric moments in the hearing were recounted in The New Yorker this week in a profile of Sen. Arlen Specter, who inexplicably condemned the proposed new restrictions on habeas corpus and then voted in favor of them. See "Killing Habeas Corpus" by Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, December 4.

"In my view, [the Military Commissions Act] has dishonored our Nation's proud history," said Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who introduced legislation on November 16 that would repeal several of the Act's provisions.

Congressional Record: November 16, 2006 (Senate)
Page S11059-S11061


By Mr. DODD:
S. 4060. A bill to amend the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to
improve and enhance due process and appellate procedures, and for other
purposes; to the Committee on Armed Services.
Mr. DODD. Mr. President: I rise to introduce the Effective Terrorists
Prosecution Act of 2006. This legislation would make critically
important changes to the measure that Congress narrowly approved on
September 29, the Mi1itary Commissions Act of 2006. Let me be clear
from the outset of my remarks. I will take a backseat to no one when it
comes to defending our country against terrorism. I fully support the
use of military commissions to protect U.S. intelligence and expedite
judicial proceedings vital to military action under the Uniform Code of
Military Justice. Unlike the Administration, I trust the United States
military and our legal system to arbitrate decisions related to enemy
I strongly believe that terrorists who seek to destroy America must
be punished for any wrongs they commit against this country. But in my
view, in order to sustain America's moral authority and win a lasting
victory against our enemies, such punishment must be meted out only in
accordance with the rule of law.
My legislation provides essential legal tools for our war on terror
in seven key ways: It restores the writ of habeas corpus for
individuals held in U.S. custody. It narrows the definition of unlawful
enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities
against the United States who are not lawful combatants. It prevents
the use of evidence in court gained through the unreliable and immoral
practices of torture and coercion. It empowers military judges to
exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable. It authorizes the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the
military commissions. It limits the authority of the President to
interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and
makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight.
Finally, it provides for expedited judicial review of the Military
Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionality of its
Before I elaborate on each of these critical points, let me simply
underscore the point that for more than 200 years, our Nation has
served as a shining example in its promotion of civil and human rights
throughout the world. Denial of basic legal proceedings to individuals
held in the custody of the United States has raised questions over our
basic adherence to the U.S. Constitution and also diminished our
reputation around the world. American citizens are questioning their
own government's judgments, terrorists are citing American abuses to
recruit new loyalists, and American servicemembers fear detention
overseas under similarly abusive conditions in violation of their human
Supporters of the administration's law may say that to speak out
against its enactment is being soft on terrorism. Not only is this
sentiment wholly inaccurate, it underestimates a fundamental strength
of our Nation and the best defense against terrorists--respect for the
rule of law.
For instance, the administration-backed law eliminates the principle
of habeas corpus which has served as the backbone of common law since
before the Magna Carta in the 13th century. Under the writ of habeas
corpus independent courts may review the legality of custody decisions.
My legislation would restore this basic tenet in the context of
military commissions.
The administration's approach allows the President to remove anyone
he so chooses from America's standard jurisprudence and designate him
or her as an ``unlawful enemy combatant'' if he has engaged in
hostilities or supported hostilities against the United States. Such
individuals are subject to arrest and detention indefinitely without
charge. In contrast, my legislation allows the designation of
``unlawful enemy combatants'' only for those individuals engaged in
armed conflict against the United States. This provision seeks to
curtail potential abuse of the enemy combatant designation so that
holding individuals in detention indefinitely without a trial will

[[Page S11060]]



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