The Military Commissions Act (MCA) was rushed through Congress in late September 2006, to allow members to wrap up business in time for electioneering. President Bush signed the MCA into law on October 17 amid demonstrations at the White House—demonstrations that resulted in the arrest of 17 protesters dressed as detainees.
The most jarring provision in the MCA is the denial of the fundamental human right of habeas corpus, not just for detainees, but for any person who is not a citizen of the United States. This threatens legal U.S. residents with the prospect of losing the right to challenge their detention, and continues the Bush Administration practice of nullifying the presumption of innocence.
The Supreme Court invalidated part of the Military Commissions Act in its June 2008 decision in Boumediene v. Bush. The justices ruled 5-4 that the MCA unconstitutionally denied habeas corpus rights to "enemy combatant" detainees.
Tools and Resources
- List of organizing ideas from Witness Against Torture
- Amnesty International's January 11 Action Guide
- Alliance for Justice's video and petition drive
- Manual for Military Commissions (238 pages; PDF)
- Discussion with Guantánamo attorney Sabin Willett
- Transcript of discussion with Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights
- Fact Sheet on Military Commissions
Grassroots Resources to Share
- Habeas Corpus/Military Commission Act Flyer
- Petition to Repeal Military Commissions Act, from Eugene, OR
- A Disastrous Course, by Roger Dodds, Fort Collins, CO
- Satirical Flyer, by Daniel Bell, Las Vegas, NV
- Resources from BORDC Strategy Calls 10/5 and 10/10 with Grassroots Activists
- National Call-In to Congress to Restore Habeas Corpus (September 17-21, 2007)
- Actions to Restore Habeas Corpus (June 26 and July 4, 2007)
- National Military Commissions Act Call-in Week (March 19-23, 2007)
- International Day to Shut Down Guantánamo January 11, 2007, marked the fifth anniversary of prisoners being detained at Guantánamo Bay. Click here to learn about worldwide events organized to mark the anniversary.
- A Fort Collins, Colorado group, Strength Through Peace, performed a remarkable piece of street theatre, starring George (Bush), Dick (Cheney) and Ken (Colorado Senator Salazar), which is available on video.
- On November 11, 2007, (Veterans Day) grassroots activists teamed up with veterans groups like Veterans for Peace and with Veterans Against Torture to stir public outrage over the loss of habeas corpus rights for all non-citizens. Veterans Day Rallies and Protests
- Other groups raised public awareness in their communities by organizing a reading of the play, "Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom." Find the script, tools, and a list of past performances at the Guantánamo Reading Project.
- Beverly Hills, CA, Bar Association Resolution , passed at Oct, 2006 Conference. Can be used to create your own resolution!
- Camp 5, Alaska Native Brotherhood, AK, Resolution Opposing Warrantless Wiretapping and the Military Commission Act
- Sample clauses to help craft a local resolution
In the Courts
- Mohammed vs. Rumsfeld, the first case to challenge the Military Commissions Act
- Al-Odah vs. The United States of America and Boumediene vs. Bush are two Center for Constitutional Rights cases that argue the Military Commissions Act is unconstitutional.
- Jun 12, 2008, David Stout, New York Times, Justices Rule Terror Suspects Can Appeal in Civilian Courts
- February 27, 2007, Steve Rohde, Truthout, US Court Condemns Detainees to Detention Without Review
- November 21, 2006, Brendan Bouffard, The State News (Michigan), Students protest Military Commissions Act of 2006
- November 17, 2006, James M. Yoch, Jr., Jurist, US Senator Proposes Amendments to Military Commissions Act Restoring Habeas
- November 15, 2006, Daily Emerald (Oregon), Community Members Protest Military Commissions Act of 2006
- November 14, 2006, Matt Apuzzo, Washington Post, US: Immigrants May be Held Indefinitely
- November 1, 2006, Jennifer Van Bergen, TomPaine.com, Bush's Brave New World of Torture
- October 25, 2006, Joanne Mariner, FindLaw, The Military Commissions Act of 2006: A Short Primer (Part Two)
- October 10, 2006, Christopher Dodd, The Nation, Nuremberg: Past, Present and Future
- October 9, 2006, Joanne Mariner, FindLaw, The Military Commissions Act of 2006: A Short Primer (Part One)
- October 8, 2006, David Cole, The Nation, Sanctioning Lawlessness
- October 4, 2006, Garrison Keillor, Chicago Tribune, Congress' Shameful Retreat from American Values
- October 4, 2006, Michael Ratner, The Nation, Pushing Back on the Detainee Act
- September 27, 2006, Sabin Willett, Boston Globe, The Innocent Man at Guantánamo
Legislation from the 109th Congress (including passage of the MCA)
Working with Veterans Groups on the Military Commissions Act
Guantánamo Reading Project
BORDC General Resources Index
Literature, Booklets, Presentations, and Analyses
Links to Other Web Sites