Thursday, September 28, 2006

Senate Also Votes, 65-34, for Arbitrary Detention, Torture, Admissibility of Evidence Produced by Torture, and Denial of Habeas Corpus

The Senate Voted, 65-34, for a bill that authorizes arbitrary detention, torture, convictions based on evidence produced by torture, denial of habeas corpus, and retroactive immunization from prosecution for past torture.

The voting was live-blogged here, with the good folks of firedoglake.

As one of the commenters said: Writ of Habeas Corpus: 1215-2006. It was nice knowing you.

Yes, 65-34, the absent Senator being Olympia Snowe (R-ME), meaning eleven Democrats lined up with the Republicans to betray the American Constitution. They included both Senators from New Jersey, both Nelsons, Landrieu, and of course, Lieberman.

And after all the huffing Specter did about the bill being clearly unconstitutional, he lined right up with the GOP when it came time to vote.

Now that the Senate has passed essentially the same bill as the House, it will be signed into law probably by next week.

Why such a strong reaction?

Although this bill is filled with antidemocratic provisions, such as the admissibility of evidence produced by torture, the worst of it is probably the combination of the following two provisions:

1. Enemy combatants are denied the writ of habeas corpus.

2. An enemy combatant is defined, in one option, as anyone deemed to be an enemy combatant by a tribunal constituted by the President or the Secretary of Defense, and their determination is final - with no standards of crimes or evidence thereof such a tribunal is required to observe.

So, the administration is now statutorily authorized to lock up anyone, whether a citizen or not, whether in this country or not, forever, without ever bringing charges against them, constrained by nothing but the administration's own whims.

The bill is certainly unconstitutional. It also purports to place enemy combatants beyond judicial review, and thereby purports to place itself outside of judicial review. To the extent any judge buys that, it will at least slow down the process of getting this odious legislation struck down. But nonetheless, an attorney for a detainee should be able to file a habeas petition based on the constitution with an argument that the statute plainly contradicts the Constitution and is void.

But no thanks to the Senate for creating this mess out of our democracy. This is the single worst law passed in U.S. history.

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