====== FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ======
America First Party
1630 A 30th Street #111
Boulder, Colorado 80301
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Habeas Corpus Impedes Despotism
Military Commissions Act Advances It
Boulder, CO - The America First Party severely criticizes the ongoing alarming tendency of the Bush Administration to detain individuals for lengthy periods for unspecified reasons, and to unconstitutionally deny them access to the protections of Habeas Corpus. To permit a president to have such powers is to risk unchecked executive power and the arbitrary suspension of all our cherished liberties.
The Writ of Habeas Corpus is a long-established bulwark against such despotism. The Constitution does not restrict its application exclusively to citizens, and only permits its suspension in cases of "rebellion or invasion" when required for the protection of "public safety." The Writ contributes to maintaining the balance of powers by permitting review of the executive branch's acts of detention of both citizens and non-citizens.
By passing the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congress has continued to allow the President to deprive detained non-citizens of Habeas Corpus review. Under the Act, the stripping of judicial review occurs at the sole discretion of a tribunal established by the President or Secretary of Defense, when it declares a subject to be an "unlawful enemy combatant." Giving such awesome power to the executive branch contradicts the entire rationale of checks and balances.
National Secretary John Hey said, "The case of Jose Padilla illustrates the extremes that occur when an out-of-control executive is not subject to judicial review. Are we now at the point where we feel comfortable with U.S. citizens being tortured and held for three years without charge? And then there was the case of German citizen Khaled el-Masri, who was abducted from Macedonia by American agents and transported to a primitive prison in Afghanistan, where he was detained for 5 months and reportedly tortured. The CIA even failed to release him for about two months after they knew they had the wrong man! This is the predictable result when tyrants are freed from judicial oversight."
National Chairman Jon Hill stated, "The British Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 played an important role in limiting the once virtually unchecked powers of monarchs. It is a fundamental underpinning of freedom -- we can not allow its subversion by Congress or the President."
Jonathan Hill, National Chairman, 1-866-SOS-USA1, ext. 4
John Schweingrouber, Press Secretary, 1-866-SOS-USA1, ext. 2