The President signed a bill into law this morning, that authorizes terror suspects to be tried by military tribunals, and suspends the right of habeas corpus for those suspects. The new law reads: “No court, justice or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined … to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.”Before everybody jumps up in arms about the idea that somebody might be wronged by this, remember that this isn’t the first time this has happened. According to this article in the Chicago Tribune, “The Constitution makes clear habeas corpus can be ‘suspended,’ but only during extreme emergencies. It says, ‘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 the most famous example, President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. The courts haven’t always come to the aid of people who say they are being wrongly detained by the government. During World War II, the Supreme Court upheld the government’s internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans. Bush administration lawyers have said this, too, is wartime and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were akin to an invasion. Moreover, Congress has now endorsed the president’s power to hold enemy combatants.” I’m not saying that makes it right, by any means. There is precedent for it, though.
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