Friday, October 13, 2006

Federal Judge's View of "Detainee Treatment"

Here is the comment a federal bankruptcy judge wrote into NPR after hearing John Yoo's remarks on Morning Edition. (Notice, in bold, the way he refutes the conventional wisdom" expressed in the press, that American citizens still enjoy the right to habeas corpus!).

"Listening to John Yoo talk about this new legislation was chilling. I'm a federal judge, and have taught constitutional law for 16 years. The very idea of holding anyone without trial, without the right to see the evidence that was used to justify naming them an "enemy combatant," and depriving them of the ability to challenge why they are even there is so repugnant to a constitutional democracy that I am shocked that this man actually claims to be defending American values. These are the tactics of the old Soviet Union, not of a country that stands for freedom and the rule of law.
I also quibble with his contention that U.S. citizens still have the right to habeas review. I've read the law. The president can form his own tribunal, which can determine who is an "enemy combatant" (not just an alien enemy combatant), and the decision of that tribunal would not be subject to habeas review. Moreover, persons targeted by this tribunal would not even have access to the military tribunal trial created under this law.
How easy it would be for a president to use such a law to make his political enemies simply disappear. Can this be America? -- Leif Clark, San Antonio, Texas"

Keith Olberman also comments, somewhat tongue in cheek, on his Tuesday Countdown, on the "murder of habeas corpus" that occurred under the so-called Detainee Treatment Bill.

"... COUNTDOWN has learned that habeas corpus actually predates the Constitution, meaning it‘s not just pre-September 11 thinking, it‘s also July 4th thinking.
In this those days, no one could have imagined that enemy combatants might one day attack Americans on native soil. In fact, COUNTDOWN has obtained a partially redacted copy of a colonial “declaration,” indicating that back then, depriving us of trial by jury was actually considered sufficient cause to start a war of independence based on the, then fashionable idea that “liberty” was an inalienable right.
But too today, thanks to modern post-9/11 thinking, those rights are now fully alienable—for your protection

OLBERMANN: The reality is without habeas corpus, a lot of other rights lose their meaning. But if you look at the actual Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments of that pesky Constitution, you‘ll see just how many remain for your protection.
  • OK, No. 1 is gone. I mean, if you‘re detained without trial, you lose your freedom of religion and speech, press, assembly, all the rest of that. So, you don‘t need that any more. And you know, you can‘t petition the government for anything.
  • No. 2, While you are in prison, your right to keep and bear arms just might be infringed upon even if you‘re in the NRA, so that‘s gone.
  • Three, well OK, no forced sleepovers at your house by soldiers. Three‘s all right.
  • Four, you‘re definitely not secure against searches and seizures, as it says here, with or without probable cause. And, in prison that‘s not limited to just the guards, so forget the fourth.
  • Five, grand juries and due process, obviously out, so forget five and the little trailer up here.
  • Six, well trials are gone too, let alone the right to counsel. Speedy trials? You want it when?
  • Seven, well this is about—I thought we just covered trials and juries earlier so forget the seventh.
  • Eight, well, bail‘s kind of a moot point isn‘t it?
  • And nine, other rights retained by the people. Well, you know, if you can name them during your water boarding, we‘ll consider them.
  • Ten, powers not delegated to the United States federal government. Well, they seem to have ended up there anyway.

So as you can see, even without habeas corpus, at least one tenth of the Bill of Rights, I guess that‘s the Bill of Right, now—remains virtually intact. No. 3 is still safe.
We can rest easy knowing that we will never, ever have to quarter soldiers in our homes as long as the third amendment still stands strong.
The president can just take care of that with a signing statement."

Well stated. Let's hope it's well listened to.

No comments: