Monday, October 30, 2006

Regarding Habeus Corpus

"So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause."
-- Padmé Amidala, Star Wars Episode III: The Return of the Sith

According to google (and other sources), the phrase "habeas corpus" is latin for "You have the body." It refers to a legal practice where a court orders a government to produce a prisoner and justify their imprisonment.

As you may have heard, the Miltary Commissions Act of 2006 defines the legal rights of "enemy combatants" and, according to some, removes the habeus corpus right from enemy combantants.

Now, I am not a lawyer and the Act itself is pretty dry reading. But one of the key things I find unnerving is the definition of "unlawful enemy combatant:"

(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT.—(A) The term 'unlawful enemy combatant' means—

(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces); or

(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.

What makes me nervous is the lack of definition for the term "materially supported." If, in this blog, I question the legality of the current Administration's policies with regard to the so-called "War on Terror," am I exercising my freedom of speech or materially supporting hostilities against the United States?

I'm also very nervous about any legislation that contains these words:

[N]o court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained by the United States and has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.

Does the President have the power to strip away my citizenship? If so, would that make me an alien and subject to the provisions of this Act? If so, would there be any legal recourse for me?

To my mind, this is a flawed piece of legislation, one that must be repealed as quickly as possible. Not because I believe in granting rights to those who would harm us, but because I believe in protecting the rights of those who would protect us from ourselves.

Keith Olbermann, host of the MSNBC show Countdown has been exploring the implications of this new law recently.

I find the implications very scary. If you do, too, I urge you to contact your Senator and your Representative.


Blogger Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

All in the name of "homeland security" ... and the "war on terra" ...

I cannot believe that these are the times we're living in. BushCo has setback our liberties and pto cut our country in peril with his ill-conceived "war."

I will do my part to cast a vote for change this election.

5:49 PM  

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