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Chris Dodd Puts Constitutional Rights on the American Agenda

Chris Dodd

As far as I can tell, it's not making any of the big media yet, but here's the official statement from the office of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT):

Dodd Introduces Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act; Brings Terrorists to Justice, Honors America's Good Name

Washington- Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), an outspoken opponent of the Military Commission Act of 2006, today introduced legislation which would amend existing law in order to have an effective process for bringing terrorists to justice. This is currently not the case under the Military Commission Act, which will be the subject of endless legal challenges.  As important, the bill would also seek to ensure that U.S. servicemen and women are afforded the maximum protection of a strong international legal framework guaranteed by respect for such provisions as the Geneva Conventions and other international standards, and to restore America’s moral authority as the leader in the world in advancing the rule of law.
“I take a backseat to no one when it comes to protecting this country from terrorists,” Sen. Dodd said. “But there is a right way to do this and a wrong way to do this. It’s clear the people who perpetrated these horrendous crimes against our country and our people have no moral compass and deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But in taking away their legal rights, the rights first codified in our country’s Constitution, we’re taking away our own moral compass, as well.”
The Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act:

  • Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detainees
  • Narrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants
  • Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials
  • Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable
  • Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions
  • Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight
  • Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionality of its provisions
“We in Congress have our own obligation, to work in a bipartisan way to repair the damage that has been done, to protect our international reputation, to preserve our domestic traditions, and to provide a successful mechanism to improve and enhance the tools required by the global war on terror,” Dodd said.

When I posted a week ago on the "American agenda" that Democrats should pursue with their newly won control of Congress, numerous commenters wanted to know what action Pelosi, Reid, and company would take on fundamental moral issues like torture and civil liberties.  I don't know when they'll schedule action on a bill like this — my coldblooded political calculation would be to do so after hearings on Guantanamo, secret CIA prisons, etc., have raised visibility and broadened the public's revulsion over the Bush regime's tactics — but this early commitment from Dodd seems like a good sign.
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Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (