A Candle in the Dark

A look on science, politics, religion and events

Detainee bill

with one comment

What’s the fundamental right that we expect when arrested? Obviously, it’s the right to challenge our detention and an opportunity to prove our innocence. Habeas corpus is the legal mechanism that gives people the right to ask courts to review their imprisonment and establish innocence or guilt. Yet, the US senate recently approved the detainee bill, which gives the authority to detain non-citizens indefinitely and without any charges being placed.

Now, Section 9 of the US constitution states that

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

Is the situation in the US so grave, that the senate strikes down constitutional privileges with such impertinence? This action, which is fueled by irrational paranoia, is so barbaric that it strikes at the very heart of the freedom, democracy and liberty which symbolizes America.

It isn’t that hard to imagine innocent civilians (like Maher Arar), picked up from Iraq or Afganistan as a suspected enemy combatant, shipped to a secret CIA prison in Egypt, Syria, Eastern Europe or Jordan, tortured physically and psychologically, threatened with electrocution and then indefinitely locked away from their family and loved ones without a chance to prove their innocence! Not that many Americans would care. How many American citizens are going to be detained as enemy combatants?

The Democratic senator Chris Dodd has some strong words,

This longstanding tradition of our country about to be abandoned here is one of the great, great mistakes that I think history will record

Disturbingly, there was another instance in history when civil liberties of citizens were restricted. In 1933, the Reichstag Fire Decree issued in Nazi Germany read

Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. It is therefore permissible to restrict the rights of personal freedom [ habeas corpus ], freedom of opinion, including the freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications, and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscation as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.

Though the parallels are thankfully very limited, it’s a disturbing trend to witness.


Written by parseval

October 1, 2006 at 10:17 am

Posted in bush, politics

One Response

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  1. […] Bush administration achieve with this word play? They rob the detainees of the fundamental right of habeas corpus, and simply assume that all detainees are […]

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