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Bush's New Assault on Democracy: Habeas Corpus Stabbed in the Back.
Date: Saturday, November 12 2005

Center for Constitutional Rights responds to passage of the Graham Amendment

Press Release, Center for Constitutional Rights, 10 November 2005

York, NY, November 10, 2005 --

The Bush Administration, through an amendment introduced by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, has just successfully stripped federal courts of jurisdiction to hear applications for habeas corpus brought by those unilaterally declared enemy combatants without any process and held by the U.S. indefinitely throughout the world and even in the United States. This was accomplished by means of a last minute amendment to the Military Authorization Bill, brought up on the floor of the Senate without committee deliberations and virtually no advance warning to the American people that it was happening.

It was not only human rights groups like the Center for Constitutional
Rights, but many in the military or retired from the military who opposed the Graham amendment: Judge John Gibbons, who argued the landmark CCR case Rasul v. Bush before the Supreme Court, John Hutson, Dean of Franklin Pierce Law Center and former Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy, and the National Institute for Military Justice, among others, wrote open letters to the Senate to oppose the dismantling of habeas corpus.

The Graham amendment will create a thousand points of darkness across the globe where the United States will be free to hold people indefinitely without a hearing and beyond the reach of U.S. law and the checks and balances of the courts enshrined in our Constitution.

The last time this country suspended habeas corpus was for the internment of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II, a travesty that is now universally recognized as a blot on our nations history. The purpose of the writ of habeas corpus has always been to relieve those wrongfully held from the oppression of unchecked executive power. The most reliable way to determine whether someone is properly held or a victim of injustice is to have a right to judicial review of the detention. This has been understood at least since the proclamation of the Magna Carta in 1215.


Senate votes to strip Guantanamo detainees of their right to sue
BY FRANK DAVIES Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to bar suspected terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from challenging their captivity in federal courts, a move that seeks to reverse a landmark Supreme Court decision and heightens the debate about what to do with prisoners captured in the war on terror.

By a 49-42 vote that broke largely along party lines, the Senate adopted an amendment proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on the defense authorization bill that would strip prisoners at Guantanamo of their right to file habeas corpus petitions in federal courts. Five Democrats voted with the majority, while four Republicans opposed the amendment. Seven Republicans and two Democrats didn't vote.

"We're going back to a model that's worked for over 200 years - that
prisoners in a war should not be able to go into court and sue the people that are fighting the war," said Graham, a former military judge.

But the amendment might still draw opposition from the Bush administration because it would require Senate confirmation of the top civilian who's charged with reviewing the Guantanamo detainees' cases and would bar the use of any detainee statement obtained by torture.

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