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Habeas Corpus

Rant follows this definition, edited from Wikipedia:

‘Habeas corpus’ (Latin: that you have the body) is a legal action, or writ, through which a person can seek relief from unlawful detention of himself or another person. The writ of habeas corpus has historically been an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action.
A writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum is a summons with the force of a court order addressed to the custodian demanding that a prisoner be brought before the court, together with proof of authority, allowing the court to determine whether that custodian has lawful authority to hold that person, or, if not, the person should be released from custody. The prisoner, or another person on their behalf (for example, where the prisoner is being held incommunicado), may petition the court or an individual judge for a writ of habeas corpus.
The right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus has long been celebrated as the most efficient safeguard of the liberty of the subject. Albert Venn Dicey wrote that the Habeas Corpus Acts “declare no principle and define no rights, but they are for practical purposes worth a hundred constitutional articles guaranteeing individual liberty.” In most countries, however, the procedure of habeas corpus can be suspended in time of national emergency.

The United States government has been holding a variety of alleged “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Some have been there for almost six years without access to counsel, the Red Cross, being advised of the charges against them or the evidence which purports to found said charges, or the right to challenge their detention or rebut said evidence. The Supreme Court of the United States has previously addressed some of the elements related to this disgusting, unwarranted abandonment of human rights, and I’ve previously scratched out some objections in principle. Given the effect of the USSC decisions, it is apparent they wield about as much influence over US policy as I do.

First, the reason the Bush/Neocon motherfuckers invented the term “enemy combatant” was to distinguish them (in name only) from “Prisoners of War”. POWs are covered by The Geneva Convention, which is supposed to bar the government from torturing or otherwise mistreating those captured in battle. Pursuant to that treaty, to which the USA is a signatory, prisoners have rights. Enemy Combatants have no rights, and certainly not the right to demand to know WHY they’re being held in the first place.

The USSC, in a moment of sane, sober reflection, ruled 5-4 last week that those prisoners being held at Gitmo do, in fact, have the right to question their detention by a writ of habeas corpus. While a laundry list of Right Wing fucktards lined up to denounce the decision as worse than Dred-Scott, I could only wonder what the hell was wrong with the four who would have let such an offensive state of affairs continue unquestioned.

John McCain called it the worst decision in history. Newt Gingrich – who we can always turn to for the most ridiculous and foolish soundbites – remarked that such a decision would cost America a city.
Think about that. Allowing a detained prisoner the right to be advised of the evidence against him, challenge that evidence, and IF that evidence is either flimsy or non-existant to go free, will COST AMERICA A CITY!
Newt continued: “(It’s about)…whether or not you’re prepared to allow any random, nutcake district judge who has no knowledge of national security to set the rules for terrorists.”
How fucking stupid is this man? Random? Nutcake?
Newt, you brainless, backward, fear-mongering, Bush-ass-licking, dirty shit-stained ASSHOLE! You make it sound like one gets to sit on the bench by dropping a quarter in a gumball machine on a steet corner in Afghanistan – if you get a red one, presto! You’re a judge! At best, you seem to be trying to give the impression that the simple act of bringing a writ of habeas corpus forces judges to swing the gates open and let the worst of the worst walk out of jail. I wish there were words strong enough, filthy enough, disgusting and stuffed full of putrified eel shit enough, to describe the depth and breadth of how stupid you have to be to think or say such things, and how evil, dirty, backward and sinister you must be to want Americans to believe you.

A writ of habeas corpus is no “Get out of jail free” card. It is a perfectly reasonable request that the government demonstrate some rational basis for dragging you off the street and locking you up. That is not a high burden. The government does not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, or even on the balance of probabilites, that you are a terrorist threat. It merely must show that there exists some reasonable evidence to support your continued detention. It runs, hand in hand, with notions of freedom – a HUMAN right of such value that one ought not be deprived without some justification.

Fuck that, says Newt, John McCain, Fred Thompson, Dubya and the rest of the cast of Republican, fear-mongering toadies. How might we protect the cities? By locking people up and holding them forever without ever granting them due process, a peek at the evidence against them, or questioning the means and methods used to gather said evidence. These people are, after all, not American citizens, remarked Senator McCain (who, in addition to being fucking stupid, is a senile, doddering, warmongering cunt to boot). Apparently in McCain’s mind, the only people who have the right to question their detention by the American government are American citizens. Freedom and the rule of law do not extend to those without a green card. We’ve heard Bush say it many times: These people hate our freedom. But wasn’t that the justification for the war (I mean, AFTER there were no WMDs, and Saddam was gone…wasn’t this about bringing FREEDOM to Iraq and Afghanistan)?
So much for that idea, I guess. Freedom, apparently, comes in steps to be doled out when it’s convenient and likewise withheld.
I’ll bet George would like to have had the ability to extend such coverage to the “evidence” for WMDs in Iraq. “Oh…we’ve got evidence all right but you can’t see it or even ask what it is.”

But it gets better:

An eight-month investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that…dozens of men — and, according to several officials, perhaps hundreds — whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments.

That’s how fucking stupid and misguided the entire War on Terror was from the outset and continues to be. They went into Afghanistan and offered cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of Al Qaeda sympathizers. It never dawned on them that AQ operatives would send in lists of names chock full of those who support the American puppets, collect the cash and then laugh their asses off as a bunch of nothings were dragged off to Cuba and tortured.
One wonders if the reason for refusing to allow these “enemy combatants” the right to challenge their detention is less about the risk of releasing dangerous terrorists and more about not revealing that the whole fucking exercise is giant pile of horseshit with about as much credibility as Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program.

Here I quote myself:

There used to be a time when access to counsel, the right be advised of the charges against you, the right to a fair trial in timely fashion, and the right to be free from cruel and inhumane treatment while under detention were the things that set America apart from those to whom Bush insists he wants to give the gifts of freedom and democracy. That time is past. America has become the very thing it once disdained. Those rights only apply to Americans…and then only those Americans who never spoke to anyone who ever spoke to anyone who knows someone Muslim.
Stalin and Goebbels would stand in awe-struck admiration of the tactics and execution demonstrated by Bush Co. And anyone who thinks that these are the means and strategies that will make America safer…make the world safer…either needs a glass bellybutton or needs to pull their head out of their ass.

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3 Responses

  1. This was so worth the wait. Every word, and every sentiment, true to the bone.

    I think I’m going to start printing out your political posts and using them to beat the more inane of my countrymen over the head with.

  2. I venture to say that the simple meaning of Habeas Corpus is not understood by the masses. What Body? Body of evidence. Body of the accused. Both. The Great Writ would demand correct thoughtful reasoning.

  3. Quite so. A better question is WHY is such a simple concept, fundamentally enshrined in the constitution, considered by so many to amount to a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card?
    Because as the GOP/neocon thugs slowly but surely restrict, remove and redefine the rights enjoyed by citizens, it is necessary to recast those rights as threats…dangers…something no “right thinking American” would care to extend to the enemy, much less desire for themselves.
    They ignorantly part with the very things that make being an American worthwhile, and do so with the conviction that they are assisting in protecting the very thing they offer up.

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