McClatchy Newspapers are reporting that Senators Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy will cosponsor legislation that would restore the habeas corpus rights denied to those imprisoned USA government at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere through the Congressional enactment of the 2006 Military Commissions Act.
Hooray for Specter and Leahy. And hooray for Senator Russell Feingold who opposed enactment of the Military Commissions Act.
Denial by Congress of habeas corpus rights to some of our nations prisoners defiles a legal principle, rooted in Common Law, which has protected individuals from arbitrary acts of governments since before the Magna Carta. Likewise Congress has defiled the Constitution and, I think, visited shame upon the country.
The creators of our system of government considered habeas corpus protection to be so important that the principle was enshrined in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, while the enactment of other important civil liberties, such as the freedoms of speech, assembly, press and religion, awaited adoption of the Bill of Rights a couple years later.
That the founders intended the habeas corpus protection to apply even to non-citizens is indicated by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to A. H. Rowan in 1798.
“The Habeas Corpus secures every man here, alien or citizen, against everything which is not law, whatever shape it may assume.”
It seems likely we must await the seating of the new Congress in January for this injustice to be reversed, for the now sitting Congress has been nothing more than a rubber stamp for each of the Bush administration civil liberty defilements.