What's with the new prisoner treatment law?

I’m certainly delighted that our heroic senators McCain, Warner, and Graham fought hard for clarfication.

  1. As I understand what resulted is that it is now clear that the president determines what constitutes torture.

  2. It is clear that classivied information used at trial must be divulged to the accused.

  3. However, it is also clear they can be held indefinitely without trial because they are barred from going into court for habeas corpus. This sort of renders 2) moot.

  4. It would also appear that there will be great obstacles to getting judicial revue of the new law because the only people with standing can’t get the matter into court.

I think this whole hullabaloo turned out to be a farce, if it weren’t tragic.

If I misread the situation please fight my ignorance.

We’ve got a pretty good Pit thread going about the Torture and Detainment Act of 2006, our generation’s answer to the Alien and Sedition Acts. Nothing wrong with having a GD thread about it too, but you’re welcome to drop by. People are pretty much behaving by GD rules there, if that makes a difference.

Also, the Pit thread is pretty much focused on the habeas issue; couldn’t hurt to have a thread looking at the full ramifications of the Act.

I have a lot of problems with this bill:

  1. There is no guarantee of a speedy trial.

  2. “Unlawful combatant” encompasses those who materail support terrorists but don’t actually engage in the terrorist acts themselves.

  3. The executive branch is the sole judge as to whether or not certain interrogation techniques constitute torture.

I’m still unlcear on the *habeas *issue, as it does appear that the detainees can challlenge their detention in the tribunals that have been set up and do have access to the DC circuit Federal Court of Appeals. Is that enough? I don’t know.

I fully expect this bill to end up in the SCOTUS, as I’ve been saying ever since the *Hamdan *decision was handed down.

Will anyone who is affected by the law, i.e. has legal standing, be able to get access to a court in order to challenge the law? I don’t know but it looks questionable.

That’s welcome news and ameliorates my concern a tad. Now the question is, is it required that they be informed of that right and do they have access to legal counsel to help them enforce it?

They’ll all be asigned JAG lawyers, so I don’t see why not.

BTW, the discussion in the Pit has turned rather nasty… Too bad this one didn’t start first. With luck, one of our legal experts will pop in hear and give some info. Bricker has contributed a lot in the Pit thread, but I’d to hear form some of the others… Hamlet, Oakminister, Bildo

Could I trouble someone to provide a link to the text of the law? For some reason I’m having a devil of a time finding it.

Well, some like to engage in a rather extensive study before commenting. :wink:

JAG’s are good and do their best to be impartial, but they are still a part of the executive branch.

The reason I say this is that Kieth Olberman had retired Major General Paul Eaton, with experience in Iraq, on the other day. The General was quite caustic about the dissembling of the 4 stars and he pointed out that every prospective promotion to 3 and 4 star is intervied by Rumsfeld. One wonders if only the “safe” one make it through the screen. (On the cited site scan down the column entitled “Special Investigation” with GW’s picture to the bottom and click on “Rumsfeld under fire again.” The video is quite long and you can move ithe indicator button about 1/3 of the way to get to Eaton. However before that there exerpts of testimony by Eaton and several other retired, Iraq experienced, generals before a hearing by Democratic members of congress.)

Everything did, in fact, change on 9/11 and I believe this administration and its ultimate aims are beyond anything we’ve seen before.

But the SCOTUS’s ruling in *Hamdan *did not madate that the detainees have access to the judicial branch. On waht basis would you claim that military detainees have the right to access to that brahcn of government? US Citizens, yes. People detained within the borders of the US, yes. But battlefield detainees? No.

Well, the legislation was passed with 65 votes in the Senate. This isn’t exaclty being rammed down the throats of the American people.

That’s a trouble with the pit. It’s sort of like a war between nuclear powers, on an analogous scale, not a literal one. Everything can go along conventional lines until one side thinks it’s losing to the point of a threat to it’s existence. then the nukes start flying.

I know, but judicial ruling can be wrong, like the Dred Scott or “Separate but Equal” cases. Everyone keeps saying that we have to treat this “war” different because there is no descernable “theater of operations” yet everyone keeps refering to “battlefield” captures. What battlefield? Is the sweep of a Sunni neighborhood based on paid Shi’ite informats a battlefield?

In view of the compaisant nature of congress, including many Democrats who seem paralyzed with fear, I’m not greatly comforted by thins. A supporting vote by congressional Republicans is just about equivalent to executive fiat.

There is something fundimentally wrong.in the whole concept. Why should these people have less rights .? Are they lesser humans? Are they assumed guilty?
The whole idea of military tribunals is wrong. Expediency is no reason to remove peoples rights.

Here you go!


As I now realize, the above link is only to the part of the bill dealing with Common Article 3 of Geneva. It does not contain the habeas stuff. My mistake. I’ll try to dig up the whole thing.

Found it! The entire text of the bill , as of September 22. (Beware. PDF)

Thank you!

I still don’t see why the executive can’t imprison a person indefinitely. Here is me take on it from the Pit. Am I wrong about this? Can you somehow force the government to try you even without habeas corpus?

Here’s a non-PDF verision from the Senate. It’s pretty user-friendly, as legislation goes, but I challenge anyone to say they’ve read and understood it fully. It’s a nightmare to get thru, and that doesn’t even count the references to other legislation.

My guess is that the legislators don’t know what it says either. I don’t remember reading about any congressional hearings on it. They just met, agreed with GW and wrote and passed a bill with little discussion of its effects and possible ramifications.

It will be interesting to see what the signing statement, and I’ll bet there will be one, is like. GW might attach a statement saying that those provisions he doesn’t like will be inoperative for the duration of the present dire national emergency.

That might be the case. However, that only begs the question even more-- why vote for something you haven’t been able to study sufficiently?

While that is probably true, that argument is irrelavent to the discussion of any bill since it is always going to be a possiblity. There is nothing Congress can do about signing statements.

Damned if I know but it happens all the time. The House, particularly, relies on its committees to thoroughly study proposed legislation and make whatever changers are needed to fullfill the purpose constitutionally. Many members don’t really know what they are voting for unless they happen to have a particular interest in the law’s subject. For that reason the hasty, no hearings, no committee study is a hazard to good legislating.

Oh I think there is. The constitution requires the president to faithfuly execute the laws. A preamble as to its intent would help.

The procedures for how laws are to be administered are published in the Federal Register for those affected to comment on. Congress could make a law effective after a certain elapsed time for comment on the executives plans for the law and if those plans don’t agree with congress’ intent the executive could be called to account.

The idea somehow has arisen that the congress is powerless to check executive actions. Not so in my view. The stated function of the executive is the carry out the will of congress.