Monday, September 25, 2006

Guantanamo Lawyer Calls Out Senator Cornyn

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2
The Constitution of the United States
This is how Rear Admiral John Hutson, Ret. began his testimony on what's being referred to as the "torture bill."
A persuasive argument can be made that the Writ of Habeas Corpus, the Great Writ, is the single most important bulwark in protecting our rights and freedoms. It is virtually sacrosanct, and those who have suspended it have often been treated harshly by history. That is why these hearings are so important and the action Congress is being asked to take is so momentous. This is an historic moment.
Today's hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee examined the compromise provisions that suspends habeas corpus for detainees labeled "enemy combatants." The Senate Judiciary Chair, Arlen Specter (R-PA), has previously stated his objections to the suspension:
"The courts have traditionally been open to make sure that individual rights are protected, and that is fundamental," Specter said on CNN's "Late Edition. "And the Constitution says when you can suspend the writ of habeas corpus, in time of rebellion or invasion. And we don't have either. So that has to be changed, in my opinion."

But our own Senator John Cornyn shows us why he's one of Bush's favorite lapdogs.

.....the Texas Republican who was the only other member of the committee present for the unusual Monday morning hearing, defended the bill, which he said provided “an alternative source of judicial review rather than the writ of habeas corpus,’’ in the form of annual status reviews and the possibility of appeal after trials before military tribunals.

“It is important to remember — and sometimes I think some forget — these are enemies of the United States captured on the battlefield,’’ Mr. Cornyn said

Cornyn's testimony was rebutted eloquently and forcefully by turns, including Admiral Hutson's address. But my favorite, by far, was from Tom Sullivan, a partner in the law firm that has represented ten prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.

Senator Cornyn, I'd like to address a few remarks you made.

You said these are enemies of the United States captured on the battlefield. None of the 10 we represent were captured on the battlefield or are enemies of the United States.

You said no one suggested that the enemy combatants were entitled to the habeas corpus. The Supreme Court of the United States in the Rasul case two years ago held specifically that they were entitled to habeas corpus, to challenge the reason for their detention.

You said they have an administrative review following a trial on the merits. None of them got a trial on the merits....

No cross-examination was allowed. There wasn't any objection to physical evidence, because there wasn't any produced.

Now, you call that due process, Your Honor? Do you?

Well, of course he does. Senator Cornyn can call it anything he wants. He's a former Attorney General. He served on the Supreme Court of Texas, for goodness sakes! Maybe he tapped into the unitary executive theory by proxy, who knows? At any rate, in case you haven't noticed, we're in a war!

Key members of Congress are trying to enable the highest officers in the land by suspending portions of the Constitution so that the government can indefinitely detain people, and sanction a torture bill. Heaven help us.

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