Blue Blog
Opinions
Reminder: Habeas Corpus is Still Dead
Categories: Politics

The Cincinnati Beacon
Sometimes, bits of area graffiti have a “stickiness factor,� and their images or messages haunt me. I remember, for example, when I first saw the strange face that is the trademark of Obey Giant, which touts itself as an experiment in propaganda. Or one on a trash can near Wild Oats market, which inspired me finally to plant a vegetable garden: “Grow Food, Not Lawns.� Recently, however, I have noticed a new rash of graffiti off I-71: “Habeas Corpus, RIP, 1250-2006.�

In the event that you have seen that one, too, but don’t know to what it refers, I thought I’d put together a small media round-up as part of my “Graffiti Watch.�

Wikipedia, as usual, has a nice entry for Habeas Corpus (“the name of a legal instrument or writ by means of which detainees can seek release from unlawful imprisonment”), and a specific subsection relevant to the graffiti in question: â€?Suspension in the United States during the War on Terrorism.â€? Here is an excerpt:

On 29 September 2006, the U.S. Senate approved a bill which would suspend habeas corpus for any alien determined to be an “unlawful enemy combatant engaged in hostilities or having supported hostilities against the United States�[2], by a vote of 65-34. (This was the result on the bill to approve the military trials for detainees; an amendment to remove the suspension of habeas corpus failed 48-51.)

According to the ACLU, this bill “removes important checks on the president by: failing to protect due process, eliminating habeas corpus for many detainees, undermining enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, and giving a “get out of jail free card� to senior officials who authorized or ordered illegal torture and abuse.� According to Christopher Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel, “nothing could be less American than a government that can indefinitely hold people in secret torture cells, take away their protections against horrific and cruel abuse, put them on trial based on evidence that they cannot see, sentence them to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and then slam shut the courthouse door for any habeas petition, but that’s exactly what Congress just approved.� [3]

Here is an excerpt from the article linked above in footnote [3]:

Additionally, the bill undermines the American value of due process by permitting convictions based on evidence literally beaten out of a witness or obtained through other abuse by either our government or other countries. Government officials who authorized or ordered illegal acts of torture and abuse would receive retroactive immunity for many of these acts, providing a “get out of jail free� card that is backdated nine years.

In the closest vote today, the Senate rejected by a 51-48 vote an amendment by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to preserve minimal protections of the courts in their historical and constitutional role as a check on the executive branch, through habeas corpus.

“Nothing could be less American than a government that can indefinitely hold people in secret torture cells, take away their protections against horrific and cruel abuse, put them on trial based on evidence that they cannot see, sentence them to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and then slam shut the courthouse door for any habeas petition,� said Christopher Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “But that’s exactly what Congress just approved.�

I just think it interesting when people use spray paint to make a point.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.