Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Four Republicans of the Apocalypse

(shamelessly stolen from Attaturk, via Atrios)

President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 today, which continues a secret CIA program for interrogating terrorism suspects whom Bush believes have vital information that could thwart a plot against America. Bush said it would allow intelligence professionals to question suspects without fear of being sued by them later. The White House has refused to describe what techniques will be allowed or banned. The law also establishes military tribunals for terrorism suspects, most of whom are held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The law also specifically bars detainees from filing habeas corpus petitions challenging their detentions in federal courts. It removes constitutional rights of defendants, such as a person's ability to go to court to protest their detention and the use of coerced testimony as evidence.

The bill also eliminates some rights common in military and civilian courts. For example, the commission would be allowed to consider hearsay evidence so long as a judge determined it was reliable. Hearsay is barred from civilian courts.

The legislation also says the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.

So Bush will now be allowed to fabricate evidence against anyone (American citizens included), and decide what is and isn't torture, without ever stating so publicly, and without any oversight.

This is a shameful day in U.S. history.

The United States does not torture. It's against our laws and it's against our values.
-- George W. Bush
The President can now, with the approval of Congress, indefinitely hold people without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial based on hearsay evidence, authorise trials that can sentence people to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and slam shut the courthouse door for habeas petitions. Nothing could be further from the American values we all hold in our hearts than the Military Commissions Act.
-- Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director
Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.
-- James A. Froude