Now, don't get me wrong here. I understand the need to protect a country, one which I still love. But let me propse the following, which isn't brain surgery-- what exaclty do we gain by this behavior when it comes time for an American soldier somewhere to be questioned by his or her captors? Can we expect our enemies to treat their captives better than we treat ours? We are losing so much international credit it's ridiculous, and frankly dangerous. Perhaps, in the long run, more dangerous than our war for oil-- er, freedom? Land? Oh, whatever.
Senate Rejects Expanding Detainee Rights
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; 12:42 PM
A Republican filibuster in the Senate today shot down a bipartisan effort to restore the right of terrorism suspects to contest their detentions and treatment in federal courts, underscoring the Democratic-led Congress's difficulty with terrorism issues.
The 56-43 vote fell short of the 60 needed to cut off debate and move to a final vote on the amendment to the Senate's annual defense policy bill. But the measure did garner the support of six Republicans, a small victory for its supporters.
The Senate then moved to the first big showdown over Iraq war policy of the fall, taking up a measure by Sens. James Webb (D-Va.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to guarantee that troops receive home stays at least as long as their last combat deployments before being sent back to war. ****I happen to think this is good, and not just because I have students out there right now.****
The detainee rights bill was an effort to reverse a provision of last year's Military Commissions Act, which suspended the writ of habeas corpus for terrorism suspects at the military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other off-shore prisons.
The Supreme Court had previously ruled that such detainees did have the right to appeal their detentions in federal court, but the court invited Congress to weigh in on the issue. At the urging of the Bush administration, the Republican-controlled Congress last year voted to sharply limit detainee access to the courts. ******Why did the court ask that stupid question? THEY'RE the highest court!********
The authors of last year's bill staunchly defended that decision this morning, saying advocates of habeas corpus rights for detainees would open the federal courts to endless lawsuits by the nation's worst enemies.
"To start that process would be an absolute disaster for this country," said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), an Air Force Reserve lawyer who was instrumental in crafting the provision in last year's bill. "I cannot think of a more ill-advised effort to undermine a war that I think will be a long-standing effort."
But advocates of habeas corpus rights, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and the Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican, Arlen Specter (Pa.), argued that Congress should right an historic wrong perpetrated last year. Leahy charged Congress had acted out of fear and had subverted the Constitution.
The Senate's action "calls into question the United States' historic role of defender of human rights in the world. It accomplishes what opponents could never accomplish on the battlefield, whittling away our own liberties," Leahy said. "This is America?" ***THANK YOU! Hello!!****
When Democrats took control of Congress in November, liberal activists and civil libertarians assumed the new Democratic majority would be quick to tackle what they have seen as excesses in President Bush's "war on terror," including the suspension of habeas corpus rights, wiretapping without court warrants, and the maintenance of the offshore prison in Guantanamo Bay.
But none of those has been reversed. Indeed last month, Congress extended and expanded the administration's wiretapping program for six months.
Still, the American Civil Liberties Union -- which has been highly critical of Democratic leaders on such issues -- praised this morning's vote. Every Democrat voted to break the filibuster, along with Republicans Specter, Hagel, Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), Gordon Smith (Ore.), Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and John E. Sununu (N.H.). The only senator absent for the vote was Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).
An effort by Specter last September to strike the habeas corpus suspension from the Military Commissions Act garnered only 48 votes, just three from Republicans.
"Today's vote was a victory for those seeking to restore both the rule of law and our nation's Constitution," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. "The Military Commissions Act of 2006 stripped away one of our most fundamental rights -- to challenge your imprisonment by the government. While the amendment ultimately was not filibuster proof, a majority of senators have made it clear that they want to restore the right of habeas corpus."
After the vote, the Senate moved directly to the Webb-Hagel amendment, which could limit the number of troops in Iraq by stretching out their training and home deployments. A motion to break a filibuster on the measure attracted 56 votes in July, but this time, proponents are tantalizingly close to success.
Webb this morning presented an unusual endorsement of the amendment by the Military Officers Association of America. And he made changes to the measure to ease Republican concerns, giving the Pentagon 120 days to implement the policy, exempting special operations forces from its requirements and allowing troops who volunteer for quick redeployment to return to war.
"We cannot continue to load on to 1 percent of our society all the burdens, all the sacrifices," Hagel said this morning. "It's wrong."
***So much more about all this is wrong, Senator.*****