[Vision2020] No Speculation: "Deal" Bans Habeas Corpus, If It Becomes Law

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Tue Sep 26 15:45:21 PDT 2006

Bruce et. al.

My earlier "speculation" in part involved suggesting that the principle of
habeas corpus is very central to the human rights debate concerning the
legal morass of domestic and international law involved in prosecuting the
war on terror.  Certain luminaries appeared to suggest that my emphasis on
the critical centrality of habeas corpus in the human rights/war on terror
debate was misplaced.

After reading more on the human rights legal issues regarding prosecuting
the war on terror, I am now more convinced than before that my previous
"speculation" is quite well grounded in the legal logic of human rights
law.  Habeas Corpus is a very central and critical legal principle that must
be defended, that has not received the public emphasis in this debate that
it should.

In fact, in the recent US Congressional legislative debate on torture and
the Geneva Convention rules, it appears the undermining of habeas corpus
that was written into the legislation would allow hidden torture to continue
with limited legal tools to uncover this fact in a court of law.  Was the
public well informed by the media that this legislation allows this result,
a result contradicting the habeas corpus protections for detainees in the
war on terror provided by the US:Supreme Court ruling in Hamdan vs.
Rumsfeld, while allowing cover for US agents to avoid prosecution for war
crimes involving torture?  I say emphatically "No!"

Read this analysis on this subject:


Op-Ed: The War Crimes Scam

9/22/2006 3:47:00 PM

To: Op-Ed Editor

Contact: Kevin McCaffrey of Mount Holyoke College, 413-364-7219

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass., Sept. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is an op-ed by
Christopher H. Pyle:

The Supreme Court's decision last June in the Hamdan case threw the
military, CIA, and administration into a panic. The Court didn't just
declare the military tribunals illegal. It held that the Geneva Conventions
protect all detainees in the "war on terrorism," which meant that anyone who
abused prisoners -- or authorized their abuse -- was vulnerable to
prosecution as a war criminal.

The ruling wasn't limited to the interrogators who beat prisoners to death
or subjected them to sexual humiliation. It applied to anyone who unleashed
the abuse, including President Bush, who declared the Geneva Conventions
inapplicable, the lawyers who explained how prosecution for war crimes might
be avoided, and Defense Department and CIA officials who approved "enhanced
interrogation techniques" -- a euphemism for what every nation, including
the United States, has historically condemned as war crimes.

The torture and abuse were not random acts by guards and interrogators.

They were part of a deliberate administration policy that began in November
2001 when President George W. Bush authorized military tribunals that were
specifically designed to admit evidence based on torture. Two months later,
when he suspended the laws against torture and abuse, the President made
himself legally indistinguishable from Nazi officials who were convicted at
Nuremberg for declaring the laws of war inapplicable to Russian soldiers,
whom they dubbed "Bolshevik terrorists," and to U.S. and British commandos
captured behind German lines in civilian garb.

The government lawyers who wrote secret memos explaining how to evade the
Geneva Conventions were accomplices in the effort to evade the War Crimes
Act. So, too, were the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director
of the CIA, who authorized illegal acts (including kidnapping to facilitate
torture by foreign regimes) and failed in their command responsibility to
stop war crimes that came to their attention.

No wonder, then, that the Supreme Court's decision terrified administration
officials. As a matter of law, they were war criminals.

Something had to be done.

The military and CIA promptly closed their gulag of "black site" prisons and
stopped the kind of harsh interrogations that constitute war crimes.

They had relied on the administration's legal advice on how to evade the law
and had been mistaken. Now, like General Pinochet, they were vulnerable to
prosecution, because there is no statute of limitations on war crimes.

So the President had no choice but to go up to Capitol Hill and plead for
legal authority to use undisclosed interrogation techniques. He needed that
authority, he said, because the Geneva Convention's ban on "cruel, inhuman,
and degrading treatment" of prisoners wasn't clear enough. He would know
what those words meant if a member of his family were captured and abused,
but somehow he could not understand those words in the context of a CIA or
military interrogation.

Republicans on Capitol Hill were panicked too. Their party was becoming
known as the party of torture; they had to distance themselves from the
administration. So Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner
opposed the President. There were tense meetings with Vice President Cheney
and in the end a compromise was announced. "Democracy" worked.

"Moderation" prevailed, and the administration got what it wanted most --
absolution for its war crimes.

The media will praise these brave senators for defending the Geneva
Conventions against Presidential assault. Republicans will praise the
President for being willing to "compromise." But it's all a scam, because
the War Crimes Act, which enforces the Conventions, will be gutted. The
worst kinds of physical torture will be banned, but the kinds of torture
that the CIA prefers -- the torture that leaves no scars -- will be allowed.

The new military tribunals won't be permitted to admit evidence obtained by
torture. However, they will be allowed to admit hearsay -- secondhand
accounts that seem reliable, but which will not expose the interrogators to
embarrassing questions about their brutal methods. Then, to further hide the
abuse of prisoners from judges and the public, these three senators will
strip every court in the United States of authority to hear legal challenges
by prisoners to their detention or mistreatment.

In short, the fix is in. Administration officials will be immune from future
prosecution for authorizing, encouraging, justifying, and concealing torture
and abuse. Interrogators can't be prosecuted for carrying out these war
crimes, and innocent prisoners can't expose the government's crimes in
court, now or in the future.

Best of all, Democrats in Congress can evade all responsibility for the war
crimes policy that has disgraced our government in the eyes of the world,
exposed our soldiers to murderous attacks, and provoked thousands to support
al Qaeda. The Democrats will feign helplessness. They will blame this new
law, which most of them will vote for, on the Republican majority. But they
will not fight for what is right and decent. That would make them look
"soft" on terrorists, when, in truth, they are only soft on war crimes.

Christopher Pyle teaches constitutional law at Mount Holyoke College in
South Hadley, Mass.


Editors: Professor Pyle may be contacted at 413-636-1249 and 413-532-3627;
call Kevin McCaffrey, 413-364-7219, for a photo of Mr. Pyle.



/(c) 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Ted Moffett

On 9/26/06, Bruce and Jean Livingston <jeanlivingston at turbonet.com> wrote:
>  Ted, I don't think it is speculation that habeas corpus provisions are
> being weakened, explicitly, as regards foreign detainees in the war on
> terrorism.  Given what seems to be written in the compromise bill, that also
> included provisions that were less than President Bush hoped-for on the
> re-deining of the Geneva Convention language on what constitutes torture, it
> is clear that habeas rights are being eliminated legislatively by the
> Congress.  We shall see whether the Supreme Court will find those provisions
> constitutional.  Bruce
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Ted Moffett <starbliss at gmail.com>
> *To:* Vision2020 <vision2020 at moscow.com>
> *Cc:* Bruce and Jean Livingston <jeanlivingston at turbonet.com>
> *Sent:* Tuesday, September 26, 2006 12:29 PM
> *Subject:* No Speculation: "Deal" Bans Habeas Corpus, If It Becomes Law
>  Bruce et. al.
> I take back my earlier suggestion that I was speculating that the
> congressional deal on torture and the Geneva Convention re-write was used to
> "sneak" in an undermining of habeas corpus.  The facts are plain, whether
> you think the slant of the media focus on the issue was a deliberate smoke
> screen or not.
> The media for the most part did not expose in detail the ban on habeas
> corpus which disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling in Hamden vs Rumsfeld.
> The fact this proposed legislation contradicts this Supreme Court ruling on
> how habeas corpus applies to detainees caught up in prosecuting the war on
> terror should have been headlines.  Either the media was deliberately
> irresponsible, or... as often, just chasing the rating/advertising revenue
> game, again the public in the USA is oblivious to critical issues the US
> Congress is deciding on human rights issues, in a decision that contradicted
> the US Supreme Court.
> If the article below is correct (see also the posted information from the
> "Institute For Public Accuracy" today on Vision2020 subject headed "Habeas
> Corpus & the Amnesty-For-Torturers-Act?"), the congressional deal on
> "torture," while upholding aspects of the Geneva Convention, as it was
> portrayed in the media, included undermining of habeas corpus, allowing
> indefinite detainment (life in prison?) under suspension of habeas corpus,
> contradicting the Supreme Court ruling in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld:
> http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/nhentoff.htm
> Quote from the article at the web link above:
> There was considerable applause -- and much concern by the president and
> his supporters -- when the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a bill
> more in line with the Geneva Conventions than the president's proposals. But
> Sens. John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham also included prohibition
> of habeas corpus petitions by detainees -- contrary to this June's Supreme
> Court decision that federal courts have the authority to hear their claims
> on the lawfulness of their imprisonment and, and conditions of treatment
> (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld).
> And if the prohibitions on habeas rights become law -- the prisoners can
> be held for the rest of their lives on the secret evidence and the coerced
> interrogations that the three senators tried to remedy in their bill.
> ----------------
> Ted Moffett
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