Protestors against Military Commissions Act arrested in front of White House

In Civil Liberties, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, Laws & Regulation on October 17, 2006 at 1:38 pm

Washington Post reports that just a couple of hours ago……

Protesters opposed to provisions in an anti-terrorism bill signed into law by President Bush have been arrested near the White House.

A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said 16 people were taken into custody on the White House sidewalk around 10:30 a.m. Lt. Scott Fear said the demonstrators have been charged with impeding access to a White House entrance.

Bush signed legislation authorizing tough interrogation of terror suspects at a White House ceremony in the East Room today. The legislation also clears the way for trials of terror suspects by military commissions.

The demonstrators represented a coalition of religious groups. Many of those arrested had been shouting out “Bush is the terrorist,” and “Torture is a crime.”

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.

From an article about the signing and the bill:

Congressional Republicans immediately seized on the new law, which was opposed by most Democratic lawmakers, as campaign fodder to use against Democrats on national security issues in the final three weeks before midterm elections. Democrats said the Bush administration was to blame for failing to devise a system that could pass constitutional muster, and they charged that the new law is likely to be met with legal challenges that would further delay trials for terrorists.

Bush approved the prosecution of “unlawful enemy combatants” before special military tribunals shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, but trials were suspended pending the outcome of appeals challenging the legality of the tribunals in federal court. In June, the Supreme Court struck down the tribunals, ruling that they were not authorized by Congress and violated the Geneva Conventions. As a result, the Bush administration pressed Congress to pass a bill that would specifically legalize them and endorse methods used by U.S. intelligence to extract information from terrorist captives.

The legislation was approved by Congress late last month after a debate in which opponents charged that a key provision — ruling out habeas corpus petitions for foreigners held in the war on terrorism — was unconstitutional. A key foe of that provision, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tried unsuccessfully to delete it, but ended up voting for the overall bill anyway on grounds that the Supreme Court would be likely to strike the provision down. The writ of habeas corpus, which is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, allows people to challenge in court the legality of their detention, essentially meaning that they cannot be held indefinitely without charge or trial.


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