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What ever happened to Habeas Corpus? October 18, 2006

Posted by Matt Hurst in Politics.
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They were scared shitless. It had been five years since a people had been savagely attacked, but they knew the enemy was at large. A final solution was needed.
They were an administration, accused of savage acts that violated international law, and fighting a loosing battle for their political control of their own nation. They needed a final solution.
They were a party, beleaguered by crime and corruption in violation of their own law. The laws set before them, a naive writ made 800 years their prior, threatened their security of rule. To secure their power, a final solution needed to be made.

In the fall of 2006, a solution was finally made – the Military Commissions Act. No longer beleaguered by the right to trial by jury. No longer threatened by the rights of the enemy to the Geneva Conventions. No longer in jeopardy to the whim of another enemy party to prosecute them. No longer in violation of law – the law said they could do what they wanted.

We fell asleep. The American people were either too scared or too deafened by the boy who cried wolf, to do anything more than change the channel. Those in the former category had little to fear – they didn’t speak up so much as follow orders to duck and cover in the endless war. Those who didn’t know any better wanted to know which star could dance the best on television. Either one had given up their rights by not practicing them ages ago. In effect, nothing had changed.

The Military Commissions act, raced through congress in the last few weeks of session before the mid-term elections at the insistence of President Bush, legalizes in broad terms the torture and detention of people who have been deemed guilty of crimes they have not committed. Framed in terms of fighting terrorism, this law legalizes the practice of this administration to extract those termed “enemy combatants” by the administration (which the law does not bother to define) and hold them indefinitely (in detention centers, prison by any other name) without the right to know what for they will be charged. The right to trial by jury for these people deemed threats to the country is negligent, although it also allows that government to torture them in what would otherwise be relegated to war crimes (and was during the Nuremburg Trials).

The congress and Bush administration have suspended the Great Writ – the Writ of Habeas Corpus. In other words, we have betrayed a long legal tradition, not just pre-9/11 but pre-Magna Carta. This tradition, the very foundation of our democratic system, supposes that those held as threats to their fellow citizen must be held with REASON that is self-evident.
It was important enough that people fought a war over it – the American Revolution. It was important enough that it was written in our constitution before the Bill of Rights was. IT was important enough that the Bill of Rights presupposes the Great Writ. It is important enough that we would not even treat the Nazis without the same rights they violated. It was the very foundation of our democratic system, since laws we make would have to be enforced with the right to face these charges over mere suspicion.

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN HABEAS CORPUS WAS SUSPENDED? You might ask yourself again huddled in the corner, asking yourself why you had been detained yourself

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