Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An unchecked Executive branch

HR 6054, the Military Commissions Act (PDF), is a mess. The draft legislation approved recently 20-19 in the House Judiciary Committee would "make the President the sole arbiter of the meaning of the Geneva Conventions" and would strip the courts of their ability to oversee the Executive. No habeas corpus or civil actions, by anybody. Senator McCain's defense of this crap is horrific. As one writer put it, what did the administration do to break him when the Viet Cong couldn't?

The new amendments broaden certain truly obnoxious powers and muddy everything, rather than "bringing clarity". I quote Marty Lederman:
It is worth noting one thing about the breadth of the habeas-stripping provision, both in the new draft and in last week's version, that has thus far received inadequate attention in the public debate. That provision would eliminate the right to petition for habeas for all alleged alien enemy combatants, whether or not the detainee has been determined to be an "unlawful" combatant -- indeed, even if the detainee is deemed a lawful combatant (e.g., a POW) -- and no matter where they are detained, including in the United States.
Or, as Hilzoy on Obisidian Wings put it, "We can all be enemy combatants!"

Lucky us.

Balkinization has an ongoing review of this legislation, as does Obsidian Wings.

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