Seattle Post-Intelligencer : Habeas Corpus: Change the process

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Habeas Corpus: Change the process

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editorial Board | July 15, 2007

We anxiously await the Senate's discussion this week of the Department of Defense authorization bill (HR1585) for many reasons. It's a biggie.

The bill deals with authorizations for defense spending, training, equipment, tuition for military dependents and more.

Where this bill has 150 amendments attached to it, one, Senate Amendment 2022, co-sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, is of particular interest because it would restore habeas corpus rights to those the Bush administration considers "enemy combatants."

Eliminated by the implementation of the Military Commissions Act last year (thank you, Dick Cheney and Congress), habeas corpus rights would allow detainees, such as the roughly 375 indefinitely imprisoned individuals at Guantanamo Bay, to challenge the legality of their detention in court. As it stands, even the few (10) who have been charged are entitled only to a closed military hearing. Our government's treatment of detainees has only served to damage what's left of our credibility on the world stage. How can we claim to stand for values such as freedom and justice when we've been locking up, and in some cases torturing, detainees for five years without giving them access to a proper legal defense?

While the U.S. Supreme Court in late June agreed to hear the appeals of two groups of Guantanamo detainees (a reversal of an earlier decision), we're not holding our breath -- a change in the process is what's required.