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On The Importance Of Habeas And The Rule Of Law…

pathenry.JPG[NOTE:  Sorry for the inconvenience — there was a problem with the post that Tula tried putting up for us.  While that’s being ironed out, please take a peek at this one.  Apologies for the confusion gang.  — CHS]

From Bruce Fein in an op-ed in the Washington Times (H/T to reader Ima Patriot II):

…Congress should restore habeas corpus at Guantanamo Bay and renounce the Jacobins’ creed. An attempt in the Senate recently failed, but should be renewed.

The Founding Fathers enshrined the Great Writ in the Constitution to prevent the president from judging the lawfulness of his own detentions. Making proper deductions for the ordinary depravity of human nature, they worried that the president would be tempted to cast political or personal enemies into dungeons or to detain in furtherance of a political agenda absent checking by independent judges. A narrow exception was made “in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion [when] the public Safety may require it,” neither of which fits September 11, 2001, or the threat of international terrorism.

Proponents of suspending habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees proclaim their faith in the inerrancy of the United States military in capturing enemy combatants. They contend that habeas corpus would be superfluous because only vile terrorists apprehended on the battlefield are being detained. In support, they summon former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem, deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mr. Rumsfeld characterized the detainees as “the worst of the worst.” Rear Adm. Stufflebeem chorused: “They are the bad guys. They are the worst of the worst, and if let out on the street, they will go back to the proclivity of trying to kill Americans and others.” Members of Congress have scoffed at habeas corpus premised on their trust in President Bush — like the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland” — to target only the guilty for detention.

But based on the government’s own enemy combatant status determinations compiled by Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs), the probability of error is great. Restoring habeas corpus is necessary to avert unjust life sentences and the corresponding creation of poster children for al Qaeda’s recruiters….

With the resignation of Karen Hughes (H/T ThinkProgress), the US is losing a big advocate for freedom, democracy, and the rule of George, not necessarily in that order.  Perhaps we could start talking real world facts and problems instead of continuing to play big footsie with Orwellian doublespeak.  And is it too much to ask (H/T Glenn) that members of Congress stand up for the rule of law rather than rolling over for a belly scratch (H/T Marty)?

I’m sure there will be loads of substantive reporting on the importance of the rule of law any minute now (H/T Digby).


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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com