Democrat and Independent Thinker..."The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." -Nietzsche

Commenting on many things, including..."A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from." - Keith Olbermann

Monday, December 11, 2006

Habeas Corpus

I am ashamed to my very core that SC Republican Senator Lindsay Graham is the key administration toady for the abolishment of habeas corpus, as was done in the 2006 Military Commissions Act:

Graham proposed that rulings against the detainees be appealed only to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. (His legislation thus avoided the district court for the D.C. Circuit, which has generally looked more favorably on detainee claims than has the court of appeals.) In Graham’s view, the court of appeals is an adequate substitute for habeas corpus. “The way I read what the Supreme Court said was that, if there was no system in place to decide someone’s confinement status, you had to let them file habeas petitions,” Graham said. “But I think if you give them the D.C. Circuit, that’s enough. That’s a legitimate alternative. Arlen disagrees. He thinks it’s a constitutional right to file a habeas case. I think our statute gives you enough. That’s what Specter v. Graham is about.”

“That’s just ridiculous,” Specter told me, referring to Graham’s position. “Graham’s legislation does not allow the D.C. Circuit to make any fact-finding at all about what happened to the detainees and whether they are, in fact, enemy combatants. It’s not a ‘streamline’ review; it’s no kind of review at all.” The legislation will almost certainly come before the Supreme Court, but it’s impossible to know whether the Court will uphold it. “The D.C. Circuit would have to be an adequate and effective judicial remedy for reviewing the lawfulness of any detention, because that’s the basic definition of habeas corpus,” Gerald L. Neuman, a professor at Harvard Law School, said. “The law itself isn’t very clear about what the D.C. Circuit should do.”

The scene in the hearing room of the Dirksen Senate Office Building anticipated, in a small way, the spirit of rebellion that would animate the electorate seven weeks later. The session began with bipartisan expressions of outrage at the Administration’s (and Graham’s) plan. “It is inexplicable to me how someone can seek to divest the federal courts of jurisdiction on constitutional issues, just inexplicable to me,” Specter said in his introductory remarks. “If the courts are not open to decide constitutional issues, how is constitutionality going to be tested?” Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat, spoke next. “Today we’re addressing the single most consequential provision in this much discussed bill,” he said. “This provision would perpetuate the indefinite detention of hundreds of individuals, against whom the government has brought no charges and presented no evidence and without any recourse to justice whatsoever. That is un-American. This is un-American.” At that moment, a group of protesters wearing T-shirts saying “Shame,” “End Torture,” and “Save Habeas Corpus” rose from their seats and cheered.


The bill had originally applied only to alleged enemy combatants who were held at Guantánamo. The final version stated that any alien (that is, non-American citizen) who had been seized anywhere and charged with being an enemy combatant would be denied the right to petition for habeas corpus. The definition of “enemy combatant” was also expanded, to include not just those who took up arms but financial supporters of the terrorist cause as well. Accordingly, the bill made clear that aliens arrested in the United States and charged with knowingly giving money to an alleged terrorist organization would be forbidden to sue for their freedom.

Read the entire story in The New Yorker. It's a very good lesson on what has happened to our civil liberties in this country.

Democrats need to skewer Graham to the wall on this subject come his re-election. Educate Southerners about this bill, and they will send Graham back to the farm. Because there is nothing, nothing more dear to Southerners than their personal freedoms. Some may claim it a dichotomy, considering Southern history, but the South has always been a place of contradictions. According to my granny, my Confederate soldier great-great-granddaddy never owned a slave, never would have, and lived in the wild hills of western North Carolina, but he was be-damned if he wouldn't fight the Federal Government bossing around the Southern states. Things haven't changed all that much about that kind of thing down here.

(Forgive the digression, but: However, I always feel it necessary to state anytime that era is mentioned, that the South is not one wit more racist than Northern states. Our family has spent much time in New York, and we have always been shocked and appalled at the rampant racism we have been exposed to in those environs. Every time I see any mention of Schaller, such as in this piece in The New Republic, the post and comments contain such a rightous bias against the South as to make my stomach churn.)

1 comment:

Comrade O'Brien said...

Please visit to learn about our creative protest of the Military Commissions Act.