The Military Commissions Act: Laying the Legal Groundwork for a Police State

In Civil Liberties, Global War On Terror, Iraq War, Laws & Regulation, US Politics on October 7, 2006 at 1:30 pm

Last week the Senate passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 with a vote of 65-34. The House had already passed an almost-identical version of the bill and the President is sure to sign it into law. The new law will eliminate any non-citizen’s right to petition for the writ of habeas corpus. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont described the passage of this act as “A total rollback of everything this country has stood for.”

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights was one of many lawyers, judges, educators, and activists who spent last week fighting this legislation with all they had. I, for one, am grateful for their efforts. Here’s a bit about the bill according to an article of Ratner’s that he posted onto The Nation’s website:

Now noncitizens can be rounded up, detained forever and never get their case into a court.

Another nasty piece of the legislation authorizes the President, on his own authority, to detain anyone, citizen or noncitizen, anywhere in the world, whom he deems to be an “unlawful enemy combatant.” The definition of that term is broadly worded and would allow the President to imprison almost anyone.

Moreover, the President is now free to abuse and even torture those detained, using the slippery language of this legislation. Many of the gross abuses we saw at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo–stripping, hooding, hypothermia, sleep deprivation and possibly mock drowning–will be allowed to continue if the President says so. And those who authorize or carry out torture techniques will have complete immunity from criminal prosecution. Those who authorized the torture of detainees in the past will be granted retroactive immunity.

To see how your senators voted on this Act, click here.

To see how your representative voted, click here.

  1. Thank you for posting about this. I’ve been wanting to do it.

  2. […] It’s amazing to me that an act like this can signed into law with such relative ease. I mean even though some people in the Republican party are drastically opposed to it (meaning Democrats surely are), Bush and his people still manage to spin their issues so that the general public and Congress will buy into it, or at least not fight back. Of course, part of their strategy is arresting or silencing people who show any sign of public dissent – like the poor folks today. I hope the public outcry to this legistlation gets much larger than this. Hopefully people won’t let things like this intimidate them. […]

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