Thursday, November 09, 2006

Habeas Corpus Beheaded

Habeas Corpus Beheaded

Two months later are we really any safer?

By David Tindall

Yep, George W. Bush and his gang of goons are at it again. Their target this time was no less than the Writ of Habeas Corpus. “Habeas Corpus,” as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, means, “thou shalt have the body.” David Cole of The Nation offers a clearer definition, describing it as, “[A] writ issued requiring that the body of the person restrained of liberty be brought before the judge or the court.” The writ basically allows those accused of a crime to be brought before their accusers and told exactly what they are accused of. This basic right is now gone, kaput, out-the-window, dead-in-the-water, bye-bye, thanks to Bush’s Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Bush signed the innocuous but patriotic-sounding act into law on Oct. 17 of this year. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC responded on his show “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” with a powerful commentary, calling it “the beginning of the end of America.”
The American Civil Liberties Union expressed outrage and called the new law one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said on the union’s Web site, that “...with his signature, President Bush enacts a law that is both unconstitutional and un-American. This president will be remembered as the one who undercut the hallmark of habeas in the name of the war on terror. Nothing separates America more from our enemies than our commitment to fairness and the rule of law, but... [t]he president can now - with the approval of Congress - indefinitely hold people without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial based on hearsay evidence, authorize trials that can sentence people to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and slam shut the courthouse door for habeas petitions.

Nothing could be further from the American values we all hold in our hearts than the Military Commissions Act.”

Since Bush’s signing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Amnesty International has urged legislative and executive officials to formulate new legislation to repair the government’s previous disregard for international law and its war paradigm which has gone far beyond being merely a rhetorical or metaphorical.

Scary times we live in. Very scary times.