1 : any of several common-law writs issued to bring a party before a court or judge
2 : the right of a citizen to obtain a writ of habeas corpus as a protection against illegal imprisonment
The Bush administration has proposed a bill that would bar foreigners held abroad from using the federal trial courts for challenges to detention known as habeas corpus lawsuits. If the provision was enacted, it would mean that all of the lawsuits brought in federal court by about 430 detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, would be wiped from the books.
What is the big deal you might ask? Well aside from a singular president who thinks he can side swipe a premise that has existed since the 14th century, he's putting Americans' rights at great risk. Before freedom of speech; before life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness there was Habeas Corpus -- the right to a fare trial, the right to defend yourself from false imprisonment. If this law can so easily be wiped away for foreign prisoners, what's to stop our government from extending it to prisoners within the United States? It's not a far leap then for our government to start grabbing people off the street and imprisoning them for extended periods without being accused of any crime. Has anyone else read Kafka or 1984?
The Bush administration's deal with Senate Republicans over detainee treatment drew protests Monday from former diplomats, lawyers and a GOP committee chairman.
They oppose a provision that would strip federal courts of jurisdiction over cases in which detainees have not been charged with war crimes. The effect, said those opposed, would be to deny terrorism suspects the ability to challenge their detainment, a right afforded defendants in military and criminal courts...
Specter's position was echoed by a chorus of former diplomats who wrote to senators and House members that denying detainees the ability to challenge their imprisonment would boomerang on Americans representing the United States overseas by implying that "arbitrary arrest is the acceptable norm of the day."
"To deny habeas corpus to our detainees can be seen as prescription for how the captured members of our own military, diplomatic and NGO (non-governmental organization) personnel stationed abroad may be treated," wrote 33 former diplomats. "The Congress has every duty to insure their protection.'"