Friday, November 11, 2005

Winston Churchill to the U.S. Senate

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."
The Senate has effectively voted to remove habeas corpus jurisdiction from the federal courts, the better to protect whatever is going on in Guantanamo. This is not the seemingly limited ruling mentioned by the New York Times ("the principal legal tool given to [detainess] last year by the Supreme Court when it allowed them to challenge their detentions in United States courts.") It's much broader than that, as, indeed, it would have to be:

Senator Graham of North Carolina stated his intention to introduce an amendment today to the defense appropriations bill that would strip the federal courts of habeas jurisdiction and prohibit courts from reviewing challenges to indefinite detention not only from Guantánamo detainees, but from any non-citizens who have the misfortune of finding themselves at any U.S.-run facility within or without our Nation’s borders. It would create a thousand points of darkness around the world where U.S. officials would be free to ignore the crucial role of the courts as a check against unfettered Executive power, a judicial role enshrined in our Constitution. The Graham amendment would formalize the lawless policies of the Bush Administration and result in the continued torture of prisoners held in U.S. custody.
That's the amendment that was passed. We have just told all non-U.S. citizens in the world: we can do what we want with you, and no one can stop us.

We are laying the cornerstones for totalitarianism. There is no other way to understand it than that.

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