You had a good run, Habeus Corpus

by alphamonkey on October 18, 2006 · 49 comments

in Uncategorized

You have noticed the little quicklink that ran at the end of September simply stating “R.I.P. America: 1776-2006”.  Well, consider that coffin good and buried, because President George W. Bush finally got around to signing the formerly urgent legistlation known as the Military Commissions Act of 2006, a charming little document that (no joke) gives the executive branch the ability to suspend the fundamental cornerstone of human liberty known as Habeus Corpus

I’ve resisted posting Keith Olbermann clips recently(as he is grating as often as he is brilliant), but his take on this historic mistake moment was too good to pass up. 

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  • Jacomo

    Holy cow. I thought a “series of tubes” was messed up. Jeez, I’m never coming back to the states. Ever. Unless, that is, they decide to wipe out whatever country I’m living in.

  • kaldrazadrim

    all your base are belong to the fascists.

  • .alphamonkey.

    I think ‘authoritarian’ is a better way to describe them.

  • Heretique

    Quiet you. Have some Soma and calm down.

  • .alphamonkey.

    “O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here!  How beautious mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in’t!”

  • elkciN

    I prefer ‘douchebags’

  • BelchSpeak

    The act merely says that ALIENS (non US citizens) engaged on the battlefield cannot solicit the United States courts for writs of Habeus Corpus.  How anyone would believe that US citizen rights extend to people all over the world that were not born in the United States is baffling to me.

    United States Citizens can still petition a court if they are traitorous enough to fight against the US.

    Your declaration that the US Constitution is dead is not only premature, but is based upon feminine hysterics and lack of understanding of the facts.

  • .alphamonkey.

    Well, seeing as at no point did I exclaim that the Constitution was dead, perhaps you should read what it was I did say.

    You might also consider reading the bill itself, as it very explicitly allows the executive to declare both aliens and citizens to be ‘enemy combatants’, the classification of which suspends your right to habeus corpus, a trial before your peers, as well as a whole slew of other little bundles of legal buggery.

    Is the bill aimed at US Citizens?  No, but the language used in the bill allows for exactly the situation I described above. At worst, it’s an undercutting of one of the cornerstones of human liberty, as well as providing cover for continued toture of our enemies, both real and imagined. (Goodbye, moral high ground!).  At best, it’s shitty, shitty legal writing by one of the most inept Legistlative branchs in our nation’s history.  Neither thought is comforting.

  • BADD

    “Your declaration that the US Constitution is dead is not only premature, but is based upon feminine hysterics and lack of understanding of the facts.”

    That statement just totally invalidates your entire post.

    This bill gives them a way around Habeus Corpus, not a direct extinguishing of it.

    Read it, and you will see that it has way to many holes for the executive branch to use against aliens for sure, and possibly american citizens if they spin it right.  Habeus Corpus should be for anyone who commits a crime in the nation, not just citizens.  It is called showing mercy and fairness beyond just for your citizens.

  • BelchSpeak

    “possibly american citizens if they spin it right.”

    Guess what?  The United States Constitution already has codified when Americans take up arms against the United States, and the habeus corpus is supended in such cases already.

    If you cannot admit that we are in a war, of course you will have troubles with this new law, which was passed by a legally elected legislative body.

    If you want to ensure that habues corpus is guaranteed for everyone, then say so.  If you wish to speak about “mercy” then talk to Daniel Pearl’s family.

  • .alphamonkey.

    You’re right: We are at war.  With Iraq, remember? Oh wait, “Mission Accomplished”, right?  This bill is aimed at the ‘War on Terror’, which by no means is a real war.  There’s no declaration, there’s no soverign enemy, and there are no means with which we could ever declare a victory.  It’s no different than the War on Drugs, or the War on Poverty. It’s a war on an idea, and thus unwinnable.

    If you’re referring to Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of Habeus Corpus during the Civil War, you’ll need to revist my first point.  There is no compelling reason why we can’t pursue, detain, and prosecute terrorists through the existing criminal justice system.  What makes these individuals so fucking scary that they need to be detained in secret prisons, interrogated in manners which would make the KGB blush, and otherwise hidden away from the eyes of a moral and upstanding justice? 

    If these prisoners are guilty, then let them have their crimes revealed to the world.  Let their intentions be destroyed by the light of day. Let them be examples to others who would follow their lead. When you label a simple criminal a warrior, you bestow upon them more regard and respect than they deserve. Our treatment makes them martyrs to those who follow them, when we could simply show them to be the criminals they supposedly are.

    Remember when Bush said that the terrorists hate our way of life and want to destroy our freedoms? Guess what?  They’re winning, and it wasn’t because of some brilliant tactical move. In fact, they don’t have to do anything.  They can just sit back and watch us do it to ourselves via a culture of fear and cowardice.

    Freedom and liberty means being at risk. It means living with the knowledge that we can’t be babied and be free.  That we can’t hand over our freedoms to authoratative ideologues in exchange for a false sense of safety that’s paid for with evil deeds that run counter to everything our freedom and liberty is supposed to uphold.

    As Franklin said ‘They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.

  • BelchSpeak

    “There is no compelling reason why we can’t pursue, detain, and prosecute terrorists through the existing criminal justice system.”

    Listen, sherlock.

    There is no compelling reason why we can’t as long as they are Americans.

    Aliens?  Nopem, let them get their own courts on whatever battlefield they are picked up on.  But now they cant even get those courts because we just outlawed it.

    You are not allowed to fight The United States of America from either within or without.  Not without a trial under the military code of justice.

    Revolution is outlawed.  War against the Untied States is outlawed.  Why wont you admit this?  Only those aliens that are caught on the battlefield are subject to this law.  but you seem to think its some greater threat? 

    What threat?  Can you verbalize it?

    Of course, we agree that American citizens cannot give up basic freedoms to trade for security.  But what freedoms do you feel are being traded?  Other than the right to wage war against the United States which is already outlawed by the constitution?

  • .alphamonkey.

    Again, individuals and groups can not wage war.  Only sovereign states and nations can do that.  We’re not fighting nation-states, we’re fighting groups. Therefore they are criminals whom we have the right to pursue and prosecute just as we would any foreign national who commits crimes in our toward our country. We tried spies in criminal courts. We tried drug cartel members in criminal courts. We tried sabateurs, forgers, smugglers, etc. etc. etc in criminal courts, even if they were foreign nationals.  So again, what makes these terrorists so fucking special?  That they wish harm to the United States? You mean like, say, the Soviets did?

    This country has every right to defend itself from threats at home and abroad.  I seriously doubt anyone is debating that point.  The issue is in what manner should they be fought?  If we’re a country that prides itself on the rule of law, then we should let the rule of law decide the fate of these individuals in the transparent and open forum of our criminal court system.

    Can you honestly say that we’ve given up no rights or freedoms in the last 5 years?  That our liberties haven’t been infringed in the least? Where the hell do you live, because I want to see how your town has managed to circumvent the Patriot Act, TSA regulations, privacy roll-backs, rendition, etc. etc. etc.

  • BADD

    Three letters.  FCC.  Why do they exist?  To dismantle and regulate one of our founding freedoms. 

    Why are they allowed to do this?  Because of fear and intollerance.

    Why was this act written into law?  Fear and intollerance.

    I rest my case.

  • .alphamonkey.

    If the FCC would uphold it’s mandate of ensuring that media isn’t consolidated into the hands of the few, I’d heartily disagree with you. As it is, I do believe that communications can benefit from regulation.  Now if we could just get them to enforce the important stuff, instead of freaking out on Ms. Jackson’s nipple and the f-bomb.

  • Belve

    Here is another way for those who think this isn’t a pretty bad thing.. Right now this is only to affect enemy combatants, but what happens if the next leader is not so sane—monkey stop snickering– at what point can you as a citizen complain and/or protest before some slick shit lawyer says your being combative??  Imagine if this law had been in affect during the Red Scare. Perhaps I’m just a little parniod because I have lived in some not so nice areas in the US where being an innocent in the midst of this country’s battlegrounds (Drugs & Proverty) that the thought of being in the wrong place at time sucks.

    Not enough you say?? Try this one… you are pulled over for a minor traffic incident, and your car is searched and you have some copied software, what will you do when they claim that the software proceeds went directly to supporting a terroist cell and you are therefore an enemy combatant? 

    I remember when Duybah said “Go about your lives as before 9/11, yet at EVERY turn we have changed something and do so in response to those attacks and subsequent threats. We are losing this war to a bunch of shadows…

  • BelchSpeak

    Here’s three more letters.  FUD

    Fear, uncertainty and doubt.

    The military commissions act of 2006 cannot and will not be used to lump in drug users or software pirates because someone declares them combative.  Leftists are so paranoid.

    And Alpha, you are a nitwit if you think that the war on terror is akin to the war on poverty or drugs.  People in this world are trying to kill you, your parents and the rest of your family just because you are who you are.  And no, its not because of American foreign policy either.

    The fact is that you are non-muslim and an affluent American.  Unless you are willing to kneel and submit to Islam, these whackjobs will keep trying to kill you.  And the US government will do what it must to protect you, me, and the rest of us. 

    This act, passed by both houses of congress and signed into law after a long healthy debate gives the government another tool to help them protect the nation.

    And as far as your liberties are concerned, explain just how you have been rendered or targeted by the USA Patriot act or have been eavesdropped on by the NSA?  You havent.

    And dont get me started on the TSA.  Those assclowns are a huge pain in my ass during travel.

  • .alphamonkey.

    I believe it’s you who are misunderstanding the situation. I fully comprehend the severity of radical extremists who wish to harm the Western world.  I also understand that, by and large, it’s a campaign that’s guaranteed to fail, but that’s another discussion.  My point is that we don’t need the military to act as the courts, we don’t need a rollback on international treaties, and we don’t need to hamstring personal liberty to deal with them.  Again, terrorism is a crime, and should be dealt with in the manner we treat all crimes; in open and transparent proceedings that employ the law in a manner fitting our supposed ‘enlightened’ democracy. 

    I refuse to believe that doing evil to combat evil is anything other than a total moral loss. If this country doesn’t have the strength to defend itself without compromising it’s ideals, than we’re not as powerful as we imagine.

  • BelchSpeak

    “I refuse to believe that doing evil to combat evil is anything other than a total moral loss.”

    Evil to combat evil?  Alpha, just what do you think the military is going to do with its alien captives?  Summary execution?  By firing squad?

    No.  They will get a trial under UCMJ, and in fact, this law gives the accused more rights than prior UCMJ trials thanks to the compromise worked out between the legislative houses.

    You have no idea or refuse to accept the realities of the war we are engaged in.  We cannot take men fighting our forces in the mountains of Afghanistan and then petition afghan courts for extradition and then bring them to the us and give them rights that they werent born with.  And no, they do not get Geneva Convention rights because they are not from a country that is signatory to it.  But despite this, they are treated with respect.

    The US is indeed taking the moral highground against those that are trying to kill us.  We treat them respectfully.  They behead their prisoners, film it, and use the footage to recruit more crazies to their cause.  They dismember the bodies and hang them from bridges. 

    We feed them and house them in very nice accomodations, with more luxury than our own citizens when they are in prison.

    You call it a moral loss?

  • .alphamonkey.

    I call detention with neither representation, nor the ability to face your accusers a moral loss, yes.  I call agressive interrogation tactics like sleep deprivation, water boarding, etc. a moral loss. (And on that front, it’s also useless.  You don’t get good intel from torture.)

    It doesn’t matter that these agressors don’t play by the same rules we’re supposed to follow.  The fact that they don’t in no way makes it okay for us to ignore them either.

    Look you said it yourself: This administration justifies ignoring the Geneva conventions because they are not soliders in war fought by a host nation.  So again, I ask: Why is it somehow necessary to try these men in military courts, if they’re not soldiers? Why are they detained in military detention centers instead of federal prisons?

    This act isn’t aimed at fighting insurgency in Afghanistan or Iraq. We’ve got soliders there who have clear guidelines on what to do when they’re attacked.  That’s war.  What you’re talking about is ‘War’. This act is aimed at dealing with extremists inside our borders, or in England, or in India, etc. etc., and that’s where my problem with it begins.  Once you step outside the arena of an actual declared war, it becomes a criminal matter and should be treated accordingly. 

    I’m curious why you think the criminal justice system is unequipped to handle terrorism.  It handled Theodore Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh well enough. It handled the KKK (which, let’s face it: was a formidable terrorist organization), and others just like it. So why, oh why, shouldn’t it be used to address this threat?

  • BADD

    Because the government fears that their actions in detaining hundreds of innocents in torturous conditions in Gitmo will be made a public spectacle.

    Though it is not clear that the above is a definite fact, it seems to me this is whats going on.

  • BelchSpeak

    “I’m curious why you think the criminal justice system is unequipped to handle terrorism.”

    The rules are different, Alpha.  In a civilian court there is no such thing as operational secrecy.  During this war (which Im glad you finally relented and began calling it such), the enemy will be able to read in any public newspaper what sort of mistakes led to the capture of the terrorist, and will adjust their tactics to prevent such mistakes in the future.

    A military tribunal will be able to maintain secrecy and keep that vital information away from the enemy.  If you are worried that the enemies will not get a fair trial, just keep in mind that they will be tried by military officers on a jury, who are the smartest people in the room.

    You want the enemy to be able to use tricks like OJ’s defense team and the bleeding heart press corps to help these guys go free.  Its not going to happen.  The law is now in place, and its legal, and it was voted in by the majority of Americans.

    But Alpha, you know all of this, as well as the reasons I gave you, but you instead want to publish information that is false (habeus corpus dead), hysterical and unhelpful to the war effort.

  • .alphamonkey.

    To put a point on it, I said ‘War’, meaning a false war with no discernible victory point. It was meant in sarcasm.

    There is such a thing as operational security in civilian courts.  How do you think they prosecute organized crime, drug cartels, etc? Does anyone really believe that the upper eschelon of the extremist organizations don’t already know that we’re trying to wiretap their communications, infiltrate their groups, and destroy their organization?  These people are not dumb.  The specifics can be (and are routinely) kept secret in cases where it can jeapordize ongoing investigations.  Claiming terrorists have some kind of exemption from that is a specious argument at best.

    And yes, while I deplore the weasely legal tactics of high powered defense attorneys, I do think people accused of terrorism should be able to defend themselves to the best of their ability.  “Presumed innocent until proven guilty” and all that.

    “The law is now in place, and its legal, and it was voted in by the majority of Americans.” I hate to tell you this, but the House and Senate by no means make up the majority of Americans, nor do they seem to be particularly beholden to the views of those Americans they are there to represent.

    Again, you seem to think that I’m just saying this stuff to be contrary. I do truly believe that habeus corpus is threatened by this act, and I do believe this administration has consistantly botched every aspect of their ‘War on Terror’, but most importantly by removing it from the criminal justice system, a move that only seems to have been done to spare them from exposing just how inept an operation they’ve run so far.

  • BADD

    You know whats funny?  AM and I rarely agree on political topics, and yet, we can both agree your an uninformed jackass.

    Stop using your (incorrect) news of the day information, and possibly try looking at the whole story.

    Did you even read the act?

    BTW, it is still not a law.  There is this little hiccup thats called the executive right to veto.  Though we know that he won’t veto it, he still has to sign the damn thing. 

    Why don’t you go watch some more fox news and live in your little fairyland where the government always has our best interests in mind.

  • .alphamonkey.

    It is a law, BADD.  He signed it.  That’s why I posted the clip.

  • BADD

    Oh, it was an older clip?

    My fault.  Everything else I said still stands.

  • BelchSpeak

    “I do truly believe that habeus corpus is threatened by this act, and I do believe this administration has consistantly botched every aspect of their ‘War on Terror’, but most importantly by removing it from the criminal justice system, a move that only seems to have been done to spare them from exposing just how inept an operation they’ve run so far.”

    First, you need to wake up and understand that we really are in a war with soldiers fighting and dying for the country.  Bush does indeed have war powers in effect at this time.

    Agreed there have been many botches in the GWOT.  But the tribunals are NOT intended to cover up these botches.  You know that the habeus corpus precedes the us constitution, and is considered common law.  We both agree that it should be preserved.

    What you may not know is that military tribunals also precede the US constitution.  Military tribunals in the time of war AND PEACE are also considered common law.  A good example of military tribunals in a time of peace that precedes the constitution is the trial and execution of hundreds of pirates in London and Jamaica for crimes committed on the high seas, which fell under the jurisdiction of the Lord High Admiral.  Such men were forbidden to have habeus corpus and were tried by the military and were hung by the neck at the low tide mark on the River Thames.

    You seem to want to preserve one common law, and not the other.  But if you cant believe that there is a real war going on, then of course the additional steps of having war tribunals seem preposterous to you.

    But then again, you must be self delusional because you do not think a war is going on, you dont think that the majority of the people of this country want to fight the war on terror, and you probably think Bush stole the elections too.

  • .alphamonkey.

    How do you not get this point? I fully understand that we are engaged in a (however misguided) legitimate war in Iraq.  However, this Act is aimed at the War on Terror, which is by no means a declared and legitimate war.  It’s a banner for anti-terror activities.  Once more for the cheap seats: It’s only a war when it’s declared against a nation-state or organized military force.

    You do understand that the Military Commissions Act has next to nothing to do with Iraq, yes? It’s not aimed at insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan.  It’s aimed at terrorists who do not constitute a military force. That’s the point you keep skipping over, and it’s why this discussion continues to just loop around.

  • BelchSpeak

    Alpha, I fully understand who the law is aimed at trying by military tribunal.  KSM will be one of those tried this way.  Yes, he will be denied a chance to stand in front of an American civilian jury, and that’s a good thing.  He is a foreigner with no US rights, captured in the course of fighting the GWOT.  He wasnt swept up on a battlefield.

    But some high value targets that were swept up on a battlefield, like many still in Gitmo will also be subject to this act.

    So I do understand the law and its implications.  I think its a good thing to do it by the military.  I understand that you dont think its a good thing.

    You however, seem to think that such a law should only exist during a conflict between nation states, and I still argue that history and tradition shows that such is not the case.

    A perfect example is the prior mention of the “war against piracy” in the 1720’s.  Britain didnt declare a war, but they did treat all pirates very similar to how we are treating terrorists today. 

    The pirates were attacking Britain’s and American Colonial shipping, and they were torturing seamen and invading and blockading ports.

    Britain responded and gave all jurisdiction of all waterways of the atlantic, including creeks and rivers to the Lord High Admiralty.  As a military jurisdiction, pirates were hunted down by the Royal Navy and local militia and given military tribunals in an expedient, efficient manner.  Only a few of those trials became show trials.

    The result was piracy pretty much vanished after 1730.

    Now with regards to the prosecution of terror suspects- obviously you feel that it should be handled differently, and that’s fine.  You do not believe in the legitamacy of the GWOT, and I think you are wrong there. 

    I wish we were only hunting down pirates like in the old days, instead of traipsing across terrain in search of radical extremists.  Hunting pirates would be easier.  But its just as necessary, and it will work best with the military tribunals.

  • .alphamonkey.

    That’s fair, and obviously there are those who agree with you.  My problem with this tack (and indeed the tack of the whole GWOT) is that, as you said, these are not pirates and privateers we’re dealing with.

    These aren’t rogue capitalists we’re fighting. They are ideologues, and using military action to defeat an ideology is foolhardy at best. There is no plan for embracing the Muslim world, or including it in the world stage.  There’s no plans for working towards creating information markets for those less connected regions that could counter-act the influence of radical leaders. And there are no plans that work towards eliminating the root causes of this kind of radical extremism.

    Everything this administration has done to combat terror works only to exacerbate those elements who are already inclined to work against us. Iraq alone is the single biggest blunder in the GWOT.  Instead of sowing the seeds of a representational democracy (let alone highlighting the best aspects of our culture), we’ve created the world’s largest extremist recruiting camp and training ground.

    I have no faith in the individuals leading these initiatives, and their results bear out my lack of faith.  I think it’s time to try a different approach, as more of the same will only yield the same results.

    We’ve moved rather far afield from our orignal point of debate, but I relish the opportunity to discuss what I consider to be an item of paramount importance with little of the bashing and trolling tha usually rides hand in hand with anonymous discussion. That said, I think it’s rather clear that we have a fundamental disagreement as to the best approach in dealing with this threat.

  • elkciN

    Only here can you get poop jokes and political debates with your morning coffee. If only I was knowledgable enough about law to protray my point of view. Though, even a layman with only a basic understanding of politics (and with no real desire to delve deeper, politics make me feel dirty all over), of just a working frontal cortex, for that matter, can see that this administration is doing a piss-poor job. I don’t really swing ‘left’ or ‘right’ or even ‘diagonally’, but I have a hard time understanding anyone who thinks otherwise. And I’m generally a very open thinker. I guess all I’m trying to say is that, disregarding any political agendas, if Bush and Co were managing the McDonald’s down the street, I’d eat at Taco Bell.

    I didn’t vote, because I’m and apathetic lump of lazy, so I can’t point fingers. But damn do I want to. If one more jackass with a W ‘04 sticker cuts me off in traffic…I know they have blindspots, but I just chalked it up to denial, not an actual physical handicap.

    Sorry AM, so much for the ‘opportunity to discuss what I consider to be an item of paramount importance with little of the bashing and trolling’. I just felt the need to chime in. It’s not that I think that anyone who believes in this administration is stupid, just that I don’t understand.

  • BADD

    I just think anyone who believes giving their government (and military) more power and control is wrong. 

    Large government has consistantly shown to cause nothing but trouble.  The larger and more dominant a government gets, the more problems they cause to their people, and the world.

    IMHO no one should claim to know whats right for everyone, or even whats right for some people.

    I don’t suffer from voter apathy.  I do get things wrong sometimes, but I pay as much attention as I can to whats going on.

    So far I have found no politician worth my vote.  Why?  Sometimes it is simply the ads.  I swear if I here one more politico say he approves a message about how great he is, or how terrible his opponent is, I’ll get a gun and………um nevermind.

    OF COURSE YOU APPROVE!  It’s about how great you are prick!  No vote for you!

    So far every single politician from council member to congressman has been using this god damn line for the last 4 years.  I am thinking about moving to Canada.

    Whoopps sorry for going off subject.

  • .alphamonkey.

    The “I’m X and I approve this message” bit is a way to comply with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which requires “a statement by the candidate that identifies the candidate and states that the candidate has approved the communication.”

    The purpose behind the bill was to force candidate to own up to attack and negative ads.

  • BADD

    You.. have.. got.. to.. be.. kidding.. me!!!

    I can’t believe this!

    Instead of just showing your face and saying something (ANYTHING) different, they all are coping the same fucking line!!  The same fucking line just to get around a law!

    The first politician who says something different(and I hear or see it) gets my vote.  Anyone who has even one iota of creativity above all these other dolts deserves my vote.  Unless of course it is required to say that line specifically.

    Then I am moving to Canada.  I don’t care how much it sucks, at least it will be different.

  • elkciN

    I’m Canada, and I approve this comment.

    paid for by the Canadian Tourism Board

  • em

    Dear Canada:

    As a Canadian I have loved you for years. Some Americans believe you suck but at least you allow us to have freedoms. No explanation for their viewpoint is every given though. I guess they just hate our freedom.

    ps When should I start building that wall on the 49th parallel?

  • elkciN

    Dear em:

    It’s always nice to hear from one of my children, an I’m glad you’e enjoying me. As for why the Americans hate us, I’ve always thought it was our hockey dominance, or possibly even that we call our ham ‘bacon’. Either way, it just boils down to jealousy. I’ve pretty much tried to ignore America for the past few decades. Obviously it’s like ignoring the 800-pound mentally challenged fat kid in the corner. You’d like to ask them to stop coming around, but you don’t want to hurt their feelings, as they’d just roll over you.



    P.S. ASAP

  • eurolames

    There are still a lot of unanswered questions with this bill. 

    1.  Does congress have the authority to suspend HC, as they may only do so “in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” Would a court hear such a case, or find such a determination to be a non-justiciable “political question”?  If it is a political question, doesn’t that seem to render a portion of the constitution (the qualification of congress’ right to suspend the writ) meaningless verbiage?

    2.  From my understanding it applies only to “alien” unlawful combatants, but even then, as held in Rasul v. Bush, an alien held in custody w/ US territory has a statutory right to HC.  Whether or not they have a constitutional right is a different question. 

    This legislation appears to eliminate an alien’s ability to challenge his detention via habeas petition based on any grounds, or even challenge the decision of a combatant status review tribunal in any federal court based on the Geneva Conventions, i.e., a treaty violation. 

    This same legislation also allows hearsay and information gathered by “alternative” interrogation techniques to be used against a defendant in CSRT. 

    I think this will eventually get played out in the courts to some extent, but I feel that just by passing this legislation we are compromising the very principles that separate us from terrorism: the rule of law, respect for human rights and dignity, and the search for truth through due process.  We are creating kangaroo courts and abbreviated justice?  What are we fighting against again?

  • em

    A Methodology

    / I feel sorry for you guys

    // …except in Winter

  • BelchSpeak

    “I feel that just by passing this legislation we are compromising the very principles that separate us from terrorism: the rule of law, respect for human rights and dignity, and the search for truth through due process.  We are creating kangaroo courts and abbreviated justice?  What are we fighting against again?”

    Eurolames, you asked some really good questions, each of which are addressed in the bill.  But for your last comment quoted above is shortsighted and sophomoric.

    The difference between the United States and Terrorists is that terrorists deliberately target innocent civilians in a campaign of death and destruction to bring about a political change due to fear.  And, they cut off the heads of gays, reporters, and any non-muslim who happens to get in their way.  It is sad that you cannot admit this basic difference.

    Regarding kangaroo courts, you are also misinformed.  The courts will be run by the military.  Every prosecutor, jury member and judge will be officers and have more high quality education that the average person, unlike most civilian courts.  The justice is not abbreviated, but it is swift.  Lots quicker than civilian courts.  The right to a speedy trial will not be a right withheld.

  • .alphamonkey.

    “the right to a speedy trial will not be withheld”.

    Because the trial track record for the gents locked up at Gitmo has been so stellar and speedy, right?

    As a more learned soul than I pointed out, it’s not that anyone has a problem prosecuting terrorists, it’s that we don’t trust the track record in determining who a terrorist is.

  • BelchSpeak

    Alpha, to be fair, many of the guys at the tropical retreat at Gitmo are there so long because the President was unsure what the laws would allow as far as prosecution.  Some have tried to be sent back but the countries of origin dont want them back.  We are keeping some there because we dont want the countries of origin to really torture the guys or the countries have horrifying track records on human rights.

    And its pretty easy to figure out who the terrorist is.  He’s the guy trying to blow up people with roadside bombs, or he’s the one wearing the suicide belt.  You act like we have made mistakes before in claiming who was a terrorist or unlawful alien combatant.

    Would you feel better if there was a little trial first to determine who was actually a terrorist before you put them on trial?

  • .alphamonkey.

    We have made more than a couple mistakes in determining who was actually a terrorist, or have you skipped those news items?  A goodly chunk of Gitmo’s residents are there because we contracted out their capture to local warlords who got paid bounties for every ‘terrorist’ they turned in.  Do you really believe that wasn’t used as an excuse to settle old scores?

    Why, oh why, if all those detainees were terrorists, were so many of them released without fanfare or trial? Why weren’t their names paraded in the news as victories in the war on terror?  The answer: because they just swept them up based on really bad intel, and then didn’t know what to do when they’d realized just how badly they messed up.

  • BelchSpeak

    No, the way you paint it, there are no such things as terrorists and everyone at Gitmo is innocent.  Or if there are terrorists, they are so good at hiding that the US cant figure out who the real terrorists are.

    You cannot admit that there is a war and you cannot admit that there are terrorists and you cannot admit that the US is successfully identifying them and locking them up (the ones we dont kill).

    You can try to blame imprisonment on settling old scores or the RCMP missing the ID of someone.  If someone is fingered as a terrorist, you cant blame the US Government for not taking the threat seriously, as was done before 9/11.

  • .alphamonkey.

    I’m consistently baffled at how you can extrapolate such an extreme point of view from my comments. I’ve stated again and again that I’m fully aware of the real danger of extremism. And yes, there probably are men interred at Guantanamo who were engaged in terrorist activities.

    My point (again) is that we’re approaching the detainment and prosecution in the wrong way, and that the process should be much more transparent to avoid the examples I provided above.

    There is such a thing as middle ground, you know.  I don’t expect our government to blithely ignore claims that person X is a terrorist, but likewise I don’t expect them to blindly accept that the person is either.  Justice is not served when innocent men are imprisoned.

  • eurolames

    Well, thanks Belch, I think they’re good questions too, but I can’t take credit all the credit for them.  They are the subject of a lot of debate on the nerdy law blogs I peruse.  But, the bill can’t answer whether or not Congress has the authority to suspend habeaus; only a court can do that.  The bill purports to do so, but it’s up to the courts do decide if Congress has the constitutional power suspend the great writ.  But as I mentioned, a court might not ever reach the merits. 

    Yes, we disagree Belch, but I do not think that I am the myopic one.  I think convicting people of crimes that carry the death penalty on coerced testimony, hearsay evidence, and with only a limited right to information used by the prosecution but deemed “confidential” serves short-term interests: i.e., it gets people convicted.

    No, I am worried about the long-term.  I am worried that history books will place this next to the chapter on Japanese internment camps during World War II. 

    I know that there are terrorists Belch, but I don’t believe that these commissions are the way to figure out who they are.  I know the military is good at what they do.  But the fact is that of the five commission members, only one has to be a trained lawyer.  And I do not think that the people whose job it is to catch and kill terrorists will be the best to determine if Massoud “denied quarter” pursuant to 950v(b)(6).  This would be like having only police officers serve as judge and jury in a criminal trial.  They lack independence. 

    I know that terrorists exist, but I also believe that all should be treated innocent until proven guilty.  Otherwise we run the risk of convicting people who have done nothing wrong.  And that I believe is evil, because it could be prevented as well.  Unreasoned opinions and hasty action without regard for life should remain only in the quiver of the terrorists.

  • BelchSpeak


    There is no moral equivalent between interring Japanese Americans during WW2 and denying habeas corpus (they are not born with this right, why should it be extended to them?) to alien civilians engaged in warfare on foreign soil against Americans- so don’t worry about where this chapter will be in some leftist’s history book.

    Both are tough decisions that had to be made to protect the country during a time a war.  I personally find the interment of Japanese civilians quite distasteful, but have no problem in denying rights to people that don’t have those rights in the first place.

    I disagree with your definition of evil too.  Thisactivity is evil.  And Im sure that the captured alien nonuniformed soldiers will be considered innocent until proven guilty.

  • eurolames

    Actually, the Supreme Court has held (as a statutory matter, but not constitutional) that aliens detained on american soil should have access to the writ, as an application of territorial jurisdiction. In the same way that aliens who are in the US must abide by US law, so should they be granted access to its remedies.  So it now seems that Congress has taken away a statutory right that they previously enjoyed. 

    By putting them on Guantanamo, the administration was trying to put them into a jurisdictional no-man’s land, but failed.  The government attorney tried to argue that Guantanamo bay was still under the sovereign control of Cuba.  The other attorney refuted this by saying, and I paraphrase, “if you put a cuban stamp on a letter and mail it in Guantanamo, it will never reach its destination.”

    By assuming that all caught in Guantanamo are “nonuniformed soliders” to begin with as you did, then we are already holding them at least partially guilty.  This is my point.  I want to see terrorists brought to justice as much as anyone, but I want proceedings to be fair and in the open, and I do not believe that truth will emerge in hidden military tribunals with altered rules of evidence and only limited appellate review.

  • .alphamonkey.

    Yeah!  What he said!

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