April 13, 2009

"Obama and Habeas Corpus -- Then and Now"

Excellent article by Glenn Greenwald at Salon.

Habeas corpus was one of many Constitutional rights shredded by W. It's the right to a summons commanding a governmental authority that's detaining an individual to bring her or him before the court in order for the court to determine whether there is any lawful basis for imprisoning the individual, and if not, to order her or his release.

It is NOT a get-out-of-jail-free card; it just says, you can't kidnap and imprison someone without ever even having to explain, to anyone, why. Habeas corpus has long been considered one of the most fundamental of rights and historically has been crucial in defending individuals against incompetent or tyrannical governmental action (see Wikipedia).

The Obama administration has now fully embraced W's shredding of habeas corpus, notwithstanding that that position has been emphatically rejected by U.S. courts.

Greenwald writes that the ACLU's Jonathan Hafetz explained in a recent interview,

'What happened was, these people were picked up in this global war on terror, were brought to Guantanamo in 2004, and once Guantanamo became subject to habeas corpus review [because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision], . . . the Bush administration stopped bringing people there, and started bringing them to Bagram [a prison in Afghanistan], and Bagram's population has shot up, and it's become in some sense the new Guantanamo. . . . And so what you have is you have a situation where the Bush administration, was free to, and the Obama administration will continue to be free to, create a prison outside the law.'

"The Obama DOJ is now squarely to the right of an extremely conservative, pro-executive-power, Bush '43-appointed judge on issues of executive power and due-process-less detentions. Leave aside for the moment the issue of whether you believe that the U.S. Government should have the right to abduct people anywhere in the world, ship them to faraway prisons and hold them there indefinitely without charges or any rights at all. The Bush DOJ -- and now the Obama DOJ -- maintain the President does and should have that right . . . ."

Much more at Salon, including anaylsis of the absurdity of those who now claim, as W supporters claimed before, that we should trust the Prez with unlimited power.

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