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The Military Commissions Act

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.

Read a summary and legislative history of the Act.

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.

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