New detainee bill is torturous

by Beacon Staff • October 11, 2006

It seeks to strip people of rights our founding fathers deemed inalienable. It comes not from a foreign country or from Islamic extremists.

It comes from Washington in the form of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

A final version of this bill was the product of a compromise between the president and three so-called "renegade" Republican senators: John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John W.,Freedom has a powerful enemy.

It seeks to strip people of rights our founding fathers deemed inalienable. It comes not from a foreign country or from Islamic extremists.

It comes from Washington in the form of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

A final version of this bill was the product of a compromise between the president and three so-called "renegade" Republican senators: John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John W. Warner, all of whom opposed the original version.

These men sought to protect people from forcible interrogation but failed when negotiating the new law which gave the president free reign to define torture.

Thanks to Congress passing this bill, President Bush can now interpret Article 3 of the Geneva Convention as he sees fit so he can "better protect" the American people from terrorists.

This bill is not just unconstitutional. It is an assault on freedoms that have been staples of American life for centuries.

Interpretation of law is up to the judicial branch, as the Constitution states.

Congress has a constitutional responsibility to check the power of the executive branch, but by bowing to the whims of our current administration, it has failed.

And this is not the only constitutional issue with this bill. The president is given the ability to suspend the right of habeas corpus-the right to a fair trial and legal representation-for suspected terrorists.

Habeas corpus has been an integral part of our legal system since our nation was founded and is especially important now.

Our government can now arrest people without charges and throw them in jail without a trial. It is simply unconscionable that our Congress has legitimized these behaviors.

The rights of the accused are crucial to democracy and made very clear by the fifth and eighth amendments.

The legality of this new bill, however, is not what is really in question. Many constitutional lawyers and scholars have already confirmed the law's merely semi-legal status. The real problem is the simple fact that we, as a nation, keep disregarding the Constitution.

And that leads to the greater conflict: which is more important, freedom or security?

Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding founders, said "They that can give up a little bit of liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

These words ring true today. And while security is important, it shouldn't be bought at the price of our freedom.