Talking Points: Military Commissions
McCain/Graham/Warner Bill Threatens Habeas
Senators Warner, McCain and Graham have been lionized by many conservatives for refusing to abandon their alternative to the White House’s outrageous bill. Their legislation, unfortunately contains similar mischief.
Headed for a vote in the House of Representatives, the White House-approved bill is sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA). Of the 28 Democrats on the Armed Services Committee, only eight had the courage to vote against the White House bill. Find out how this takes us several steps backwards in human rights.
- For a full analysis, see FCNL’s (Friends Committee on National Legislation) background
- Read stories of detainees wrongfully held at Guantánamo in a newly released report by the Center for Constitutional Rights, “Faces of Guantánamo”
- Read letters from military and Republican leaders who oppose the White House bill
Though it is encouraging to see some push-back from Republican and military leaders, it is still up to all of us to protect the rights of habeas corpus, basic human dignity, and other fundamental rights that are once again on the chopping block. Compromises from 2005 that lead to the infamous Detainee Treatment Act clarified some standards, but also gutted habeas corpus for Guantánamo detainees. We must work to stop the further erosion of this essential centuries-old right.
- People must not be barred from their own trials, blocked from seeing evidence used in their prosecution, and convicted based on evidence obtained through torture or abuse.
- Military commissions must not use secret evidence, hearsay, and information obtained by coercion or torture; they must be prohibited from allowing detainees to be held based on such evidence.
- The majority of detainees at Guantánamo have never been charged with a crime. Congress must not deny them a hearing on their pending habeas cases. This is the only path open to them to challenge the reasons for their detention as “enemy combatants.”
- The habeas petitions—asking whether there is a sufficient basis for a prisoner’s detention—is the most important judicial role in our constitutional democracy. Ensuring that no person is imprisoned unlawfully is one of the most fundamental protections of our constitution and must be upheld.
- The Bush Administration wants to abandon basic due process protections guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions and exempt abuse such as waterboarding. This is an affront to Geneva and adds to contempt towards the U.S.