Thursday, September 21, 2006

This just in! Habeas Corpus is not dead!

But it may be on life support:

Both the legislation introduced on behalf of the administration and the competing bill sponsored by a group of largely Republican opponents in the Senate include a provision that would bar foreigners held abroad from using the federal trial courts for challenges to detention known as habeas corpus lawsuits. If the provision was enacted, it would mean that all of the lawsuits brought in federal court by about 430 detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, would be wiped from the books.
Who backs this insane and unconstitutional notion? (Even Arlen Specter agrees with that.) Why, Sen. Lindsay Graham, the “maverick” who’s joined McCain in standing up to Bush:

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a sponsor of one of the bills eliminating the habeas corpus filings, said Wednesday that the flood of such lawsuits had hampered the war effort and given judges too much leeway to second-guess field commanders.

Mr. Graham said his bill provided an alternative by allowing detainees to challenge their detentions in the federal appeals courts but barring them from raising the broad range of complaints that are allowable in habeas corpus lawsuits.

“These enemy prisoners should not have an unlimited right of access to our federal courts like a U.S. citizen,” he said in an interview.
After all, due process and equal protection are not available to non-citizens. Right?

Oops. Guess they are. And why do we need habeas corpus? Well, because without it, we don't have a judicial system at all. We just have a detention system:

Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, a New York lawyer who has represented Guantánamo prisoners, said habeas corpus proceedings had demonstrated how many people have been detained on little evidence.

“There is also an irony in that people like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed who are said to be responsible for the deaths of thousands will get a trial while hundreds of others, who are not even charged with any crimes, may be kept at Guantánamo forever without any court hearing,” he said.
And in breaking news, a reminder that it's always darkest before it goes completely black. Well, maybe it isn't that bad; but this is hardly reassuring:

Republican lawmakers said today that the Bush administration had reached an agreement with three crucial Republican senators on legislation to clarify which interrogation techniques can be used against terror suspects and to establish trial procedures for those in military custody.

Representative Duncan Hunter of California, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said a “conceptual agreement” had been reached.

This announcement followed a meeting at the White House between Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, and the three senators: John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Warner of Virginia. Mr. Warner said “we did our duty” after confirming that an accord had been reached.

Neither Mr. Warner nor Mr. Hunter offered no details of the accord, and it was unclear whether it satisfied all the senators’ demands. Nor was it clear how Democrats – who have largely stood aside while the Republicans feuded – would react.
Without details it's impossible to know what this means, but there's no reason to rejoice. We'll just have to see what the Democrats do, now.

BREAKING NEWS ALREADY BROKEN: As is usual with such a "hot" story, new details emerge immediately to cloud the picture. CNN's report is much less definite than the NYT's:

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans wrangling with the White House over proposed rules for the interrogation of suspected terrorists said there was a "50-50" chance of breaking the deadlock stalemating the legislation, said a Republican Senate staffer familiar with the negotiations.

The staffer referred to the White House proposal that was sent to Capitol Hill Monday night as "a serious offer on their part." But he said the senators were not "accepting it in its current form" and intended to send the White House a proposal of their own sometime Tuesday.


Sen. John McCain of Arizona, one of the Republican senators who has bucked the White House on the detainee issue, called the White House proposal "good" and said any counterproposal from the senators would be "part of the process."
Nothing to do but fasten your seatbelts again.

No comments:

Post a Comment