Military Commissions Act of 2006
The Military Commissions Act of 2006 was passed by the Congress of the United States on 28 September 2006, and with its passage the principle of habeas corpus that reaches all the way back to English common law has been seriously undermined.
Senator Patrick Leahy, (D. Vermont) commented: "The bill before us would not merely suspend the great writ—the great writ—the writ of habeas corpus, it just eliminates it permanently."
Remarkably, Senator Arlen Specter and other Republicans with pretensions to concern for civil liberty signed this bill. It was also signed by one Democratic senator.
Giving the government the ability to hold prisoners for unlimited lengths of time without need of justification before any court does not seem to have greatly alarmed many government officials, political commentators, or other parties that purportedly have concern for our fundamental liberties. No explanation for this apathy has been elucidated.
The DCP comments:
S. 3930 would amend the Habeas Corpus provisions of the United States Code to strip U.S. courts of jurisdiction to hear or consider a writ of habeas corpus (petition to seek release from unlawful detention) by or on the behalf of an alien detained by the U.S. who has been determined by the U.S. to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.
The legislation would also strip U.S. courts of jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the U.S. or its agents relating to the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained by the U.S. and has been determined by the U.S. to be properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination. These changes would take effect on the date of enactment and would apply to all cases, without exception, pending on or after the date of enactment.
Some observers in the legal community have expressed concern about whether judicial review would be available to challenge the determination of someone being held as an alien and/or as legitimately holding the status as "enemy combatant."
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against a group of Guantanamo prisoners by upholding a provision of the law that prohibited them from filing habeas corpus petitions in U.S. courts. (Source: Guantanamo, Habeas Corpus, and You).
Democratic Senators for:
Republical Senators for:
Republican Senators against:
Further information on votes
- Just how fair are the new Pentagon rules for Military Commissions? - a summary of the new Manual of Rules for conducting military commissions.