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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Senate Rejects to Expand Detainee Rights

Quickie here.

The vote came in at 56-43 against the bill. Roll call found here.

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - The Senate narrowly rejected legislation on Wednesday that would have given military detainees the right to protest their detention in federal court.

The 56-43 vote against the bill, by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., fell four votes shy of the 60 needed to cut off debate. It was a blow for human rights groups that say a current ban on habeas corpus petitions could lead to the indefinite detention of individuals wrongfully suspected of terrorism.

President Bush and conservative Republicans counter that the ban, enacted last year, was necessary to stem the tide of legal protests flooding civilian courts.

Leahy said he would try again to repeal it, although he was not sure when he would get another chance.


Added Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.: "Never has such an unprecedented legal right been granted to a prisoner of war or detainee."

More from Lindsey Graham:

"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."

In the early 1870s, President Grant suspended habeas corpus in nine counties in South Carolina, as part of federal civil rights action against the Ku Klux Klan under the 1870 Force Act and 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act.

Section 9, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

"The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. "


In 1996, following the Oklahoma City bombing, Congress passed (91-8-1 in the Senate, 293-133-7 in the House) and President Clinton signed into law the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). The AEDPA was to "deter terrorism, provide justice for victims, provide for an effective death penalty, and for other purposes."

The AEDPA contained the first limitations on habeas corpus since the Civil War. For the first time, its Section 101 set a statute of limitations of one year following conviction for prisoners to seek the writ. It limits the power of federal judges to grant relief unless the state court's adjudication of the claim resulted in a decision that was (1) contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding. It absolutely barred second or successive petitions. Petitioners who had already filed a federal habeas petition were required to first secure authorization from the appropriate United States Court of Appeals.

The arguments on both sides of this issue are good and valid, but I find nowhere, in the constitution or the bill of rights, that guarantees enemy combatants in a time of war, the right to Habeas Corpus.