[Ppnews] Senate Agrees to Imprisonment Without Charges
Political Prisoner News
PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 15 08:53:28 EST 2005
The Senate Agrees to Imprisonment Without Charges
By Mike Whitney
Al-Jazeerah, November 14, 2005
How can the Senate vote to ban habeas corpus?!?
It makes no sense at all. It's like voting for an end to freedom.
And, yet, this is exactly what happened on Friday, November 11, when
the Senate passed the (Lindsay) Graham amendment which overturns an
earlier Supreme Court ruling (Rasul vs. Bush) allowing Guantanamo
detainees to challenge their imprisonment in federal court. By a 49
to 42 margin the Senate approved the measure which effectively
deprives them of the right to know why they are being held or of any
legal means to defend themselves.
None of the Guantanamo inmates have ever been charged with a crime.
The Senate vote ensures that they never will.
The action goes beyond a simple dispute with the high court's
decision to honor the rights of so called "enemy combatants". The
vote denies the prisoners any civil liberties provided under the Bill
of Rights, the Geneva Conventions or any other of the human rights
treaties to which the US is a signatory. It is a blatant attempt to
rescind the principle that men are entitled to equal treatment under
the law or that they are innocent until proven guilty. From this
point on, everyone who has been caught up in Bush's "war on terror"
dragnet will be presumed guilty.
Habeas corpus is the cornerstone of American jurisprudence dating
back 800 years in British Law. It allows a detained person to appear
before a judge to determine the legitimacy of his imprisonment, and
it forces the state to charge that person with a crime if it intends
to continue holding him. It is the most fundamental of all human
rights, and certainly the most important. Without the protection of
habeas the state is free to disregard the rule of law and jail anyone
it pleases. The denial of habeas is the beginning of tyranny.
Freedom does not exist in a vacuum; it can only thrive where there
are restrictions on state power. Civil liberties are the fire-wall
which protects the citizen from the threat of government abuse.
Habeas corpus is the foundation upon which the entire scaffolding of
civil liberties is erected. It is the primary shield against the
violence of the state.
Senator Lindsay Graham knows all of this; after all he's an attorney.
And, yet, he has taken this extraordinary step to revoke The Great
Writ of Liberty (habeas corpus) to confer absolute authority on the president.
Where is the evidence that eviscerating basic liberties improves our
chances of winning the war on terror?
In case after case, the Bush administration has taken the position
that the president is above the law and can imprison "terror
suspects" according to his own discretion. On September 9, 2005 the
administration won a crucial battle when the 3 judge panel of the 4th
Circuit Court of Appeals voted unanimously that Bush could continue
to imprison an American citizen, Jose Padilla, without charging him
with a crime. The court said that the "Joint Resolution" issued by
Congress following 9-11 authorized the President to use "all
necessary force" in fighting the war on terror. This, they concurred,
allows the president to ignore the Bill of Rights and act on his own judgment.
Once again, the target of Bush's assault in the Padilla case was
habeas corpus, the ideological nerve-center of American jurisprudence.
Consider the words of Alexander Hamilton who said, the writ of habeas
corpus protects against "the practice of arbitrary imprisonment . . .
the favorite and most formidable instrument of tyranny."
Or, this from Justice Antonin Scalia:
"The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of
separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the
will of the Executive."
The Bush administration, under cover of the war on terror, is
marching inexorably towards a totalitarian state. Since Sept 11 they
have taken steps to reconfigure the legal landscape and promote their
vision of the supreme presidency. Their colleagues in the Congress
and the judiciary have supported their efforts to bolster executive
power while putting the president beyond the range of accountability.
All the while, they have calculatingly zeroed in on the essential
human right upon which liberty depends; habeas corpus, the epicenter
of American freedom.
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews