Bush administration 73, Freedom 0For 800 years, the right to habeas corpus has been recognized as the single most fundamental right in any country that purports to call itself free. Basically, habeas corpus means you can't be thrown in jail without a good reason and that the government must justify that reason. A writ of habeas corpus is issued so that a prisoner can be brought before the court (judicial oversight) to determine if his detainment is legitimate. Simply put, the right to habeas corpus is intended to guard against arbitrary arrests.
Habeas corpus is protected in the US Constitution's Article I, Section 9 which states quite clearly and explicitly: 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.
However, in recent testimony before the US Senate's Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales presented one of the most Orwellian interpretations of this provision ever offered.
Gonzales, theoretically the nation's top law ENFORCEMENT officer, claimed that the Constitution did not guarantee the right of habeas corpus. It only prohibited the government from taking it away.
“There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there’s a prohibition against taking it away,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales’s remark left Specter, the committee’s ranking Republican, stammering.
“Wait a minute,” Specter interjected. “The Constitution says you can’t take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there’s a rebellion or invasion?”
Gonzales continued, “The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended” except in cases of rebellion or invasion.
“You may be treading on your interdiction of violating common sense,” Specter said.
If you can read this exchange without getting dizzy, then you're a stronger person than I.
What's notable about this exchange is that the attorney general is not arguing that habeas corpus protection should be suspended because 'the public safety may require it.' Instead, he argues that the PROTECTION DOES NOT EXIST AT ALL.
Habeas corpus protection is the single most basic right in a free society. All other rights are premised on this right. After all, you can't exercise your freedom of assembly or right to protest or bear your arms if you're thrown in jail for no reason.
The record will show that I've never before explicitly called for the impeachment of any member of the president or his cabal. But I can't think of anything else that more clearly demonstrates the Bush administration's impeachable contempt for the Constitution and its loathesome contempt for the freedoms for which US soldiers are supposedly fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.