WASHINGTON - As the House Armed Services Committee met to consider the Military Commissions Act, the American Civil Liberties Union urged lawmakers to restore habeas corpus and other due process protections eliminated by that law. The hearing comes during the same week that the first commissions under the new law began in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"The Military Commissions Act violates American values and our commitment to due process," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The so-called hearings that began this week in Guantanamo are a mockery-no better than a kangaroo court. Congress must reaffirm the American value of due process and fix the Military Commissions Act."
The ACLU is one of four organizations that have been granted status as human rights observers at the military commission proceedings. The ACLU continues to press the government to close the facility and to restore the right of due process under the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.
Already, several measures have been introduced in Congress to fix the Military Commissions Act. The ACLU is urging Congress to enact both measures. The "Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007" (H.R.1416/S.185) would restore habeas corpus for those detained by the American government.
The "Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007" (H.R. 1415/S. 576) would also reinstate habeas rights and clarify the definition of "enemy combatants." Additionally, it would block the federal government from making up its own rules on torture and abuse. The Geneva Conventions have governed American behavior during war for decades. The bill makes clear the federal government must comply with the Conventions, and no one in the federal government - not even the president -- can make up his or her own rules on torture and abuse.
To build support for the Restoring the Constitution Act, the ACLU is running radio advertisements, at saturation levels, in various states around the country. The ACLU noted that in the Senate this week, two new cosponsors have joined the Restoring the Constitution Act.
"Congress must restore the American values of fairness and freedom," said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "We hope that these hearings will be the first step to shutting down the Guantanamo Bay prison and bringing back due process and the rule of law."
More on the ACLU's concerns with the Military Commissions Act is available at: