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LEGAL RESIDENTS' RIGHTS "CURBED"

September 28, 2006

On the front page of the Boston Globe this morning, we find:

A last-minute change to a bill currently before Congress on the rights of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay could have sweeping implications inside the United States: It would strip green-card holders and other legal residents of the right to challenge their detention in court if they are accused of being “enemy combatants.”

Yes, this change to the bill, a change which no one seems to know who initiated, would “mak[e] it legal for noncitizens inside the United States to be detained indefinitely, without access to the court system, until the ‘war on terror’ is over.” Think of someone you know who is in the U.S. on a green card, a legal resident. Think of them making a mistake: meeting someone on a “terrorist list” at a cafe, donating money to a local religious charity, marching in D.C. for the unification of North and South Korea, handing out pamphlets urging the adoption of diplomatic measures in the Middle East, placing a bumper sticker on their automobile which reads “War is Not the Answer,” and so on. Then imagine them being arrested and detained without any right to challenge their detention, which, as we’ve seen, can go on indefinitely.

The removal of the phrase “outside the United States” from the bill leaves us with:

“no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.”

This is one of the more frightening things that I’ve heard. Let’s pray that Arlen Specter’s amendment to the bill passes.

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4 Comments
  1. September 28, 2006 2:18 PM

    Alas. From Forbes.com: Republicans Reject Amendment by Specter:

    The Senate voted 48-51 against an amendment by Sen. Arlen Specter that would have allowed terror suspects to file “habeas corpus” petitions in court.

  2. September 28, 2006 2:58 PM

    From the NYT:

    The amendment introduced by Mr. Specter would have guaranteed to non-American citizens who are held as unlawful enemy combatants the right to appeal their detention in federal court. The bill now contains no such guarantee.

    “What this bill would do is take our civilization back 900 years,” to before the adoption of the writ of habeus corpus in medieval England, Senator Specter said.

    Mr. Leahy said the bill as written would allow the executive branch to hold any lawful immigrant in the United States indefinitely without charge. “We are about to put the darkest blot on the conscience of the nation,” he said, charging that the push for quick passage was purely for political gain.

    This is a terrible, terrible day.

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