HellBent Report This Comment
Date: October 18, 2006 01:47PM
Welcome to the Fourth Reich
Congress, Bush defile Constitution with security bill
By Thomas C Greene in Dublin
Published Wednesday 18th October 2006 15:53 GMT
"It is a rare occasion when a President can sign a bill that he knows will
save American lives; I have that privilege this morning," US President
George W Bush trilled as he consigned 200 years of judicial oversight to the
scrap heap of history.
For the bill that he signed with such evident satisfaction has relieved the
federal courts of their rights and duty to hear petitions for a writ of habeas
corpus, which allow prisoners to challenge their confinement under
The new law, called the Military Commissions Act of 2006, will allow rough
treatment during interrogations, so long as the President designates a practice
not to be torture. But he is permitted to "interpret" international
law forbidding torture to suit himself.
The government, not the courts, will now be deciding what is cruel and inhumane
treatment. Only monstrous abuse, reaching the level of a war crime, such as
rape, mutilation, and the like, are expressly forbidden. And prisoners will not
be granted legal counsel during interrogations.
The law will allow hearsay evidence and even coerced testimony to be admitted at
trial, so long as a judge deems it relevant and reliable. Evidence obtained
through torture cannot be used but, as noted above, the government will have
plenty of latitude in defining torture, and it is inevitable that testimony will
be obtained through force or threats of force, and permitted at trial.
The law empowers the military to detain any foreigner it wishes to call an
unlawful enemy combatant. And yet it fails to address the thousands of prisoners
socked away in ratholes in Iraq: it applies only to those prisoners whom the
government wishes to try in its kangaroo courts - otherwise known as military
It is the most un-American piece of legislation passed since the so-called
"Patriot" Act. But it is a "vital tool" in the war on
terror, the President insisted, using his stock slogan for all of the
administration's various assaults upon proper judicial process and civil
liberties. Massive electronic dragnets and wiretaps are a "vital
tool". Warrantless searches are a "vital tool". Holding thousands
of prisoners in an extra-judicial limbo is a "vital tool".
And here we have another, rubber-stamped by a spineless Republican Congress.
"With the bill I'm about to sign, the men our intelligence officials
believe orchestrated the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people will face
justice," the President gushed as he prepared to make the legislation
Donald Rumsfeld was there, looking quite satisfied. In a sense, he had just been
given a promotion. He is now, effectively, the Supreme Court for a shadow
judiciary. It is a quite illegal one, Congressional blessing or no, but the
question remains: will the real Supreme Court stand up and make it right? ®