Saturday, June 23, 2007

House, Senate move to close Gitmo, restore habeus corpus rights

Along with voting on several Iraq war-related amendments, including requiring troop withdrawals and combat readiness, and banning permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, the House and the Senate will consider another very important amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization bill they both will debate soon:

The House defense appropriators are considering including language in the 2008 spending bill that would close Guantanamo Bay prison, according to a senior defense appropriator.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), a strong proponent of closing the controversial military detainee facility, said that the defense subcommittee is planning to introduce a provision to shut down the detention unit for suspected terrorists in Cuba... More prisoners should be sent back to their country of origin, while the rest should be held at maximum-security facilities in the United States, said Moran.
Sen. Carl Levin, the Armed Service Committee Chairman, will try to get the same thing included on the Senate side. Knowing Democrats are about to up the pressure to close Gitmo may be one reason the White House is considering their options, though this bill will probably get vetoed.

Meanwhile, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) introduced a bill Friday to restore the detainees’ habeas corpus rights, which were formally circumscribed when Congress adopted the Military Commissions Act last year. If restored, the writ of habeas corpus would allow the detainees to challenge their detention in federal court.

According to a press release by Skelton, provisions in the Military Commissions Act unconstitutionally stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction over such cases.

Habeas corpus, a fundamental right of the U.S. legal system, gives any person held by the government the means to go before a court to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for detention.
On the Senate side, Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy and Sen. Chris Dodd have introduced similar legislation. It's nice to see we will finally get a vote on it.

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