Sunday, November 19, 2006

Will Michael Arcuri Join Pelosi in Silence on Military Commissions Act?

This morning, the Washington Post laments that the new Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives seems to have no intention of investigation, much less providing a remedy for, the infamous Military Commissions Act.

For those who have not paid attention to the news this autumn, the Military Commissions Act does the following:
  • Revokes the right of habeas corpus
  • Ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions
  • Legalizes torture
  • Gives war criminals legal amnesty
  • Sets up kangaroo courts with absurd standards of justice
  • Provides the President of the United States the power to imprison people without any criminal charge or proof of wrongdoing

    Democrats were elected to Congress to challenge the Republican way of doing things. But, so far, Nancy Pelosi doesn't seem very interested in dealing with the most serious Republican abuses: The Republicans' attacks upon the liberty that Americans once held dear. Do Americans still hold that liberty dear?

    Some clearly do. Others don't seem to care - and among those others are many Democrats. Nancy Pelosi did not vote for the Military Commissions Act, but she faces a House of Representatives in which the majority of members did, or would have, if they had been elected. New Congressman Mike Arcuri is among those who supported the Military Comissions Act. He thought it was a jim dandy idea.

    When a big chunk of the Democratic Congress joins the Republicans in supporting laws like the Military Commissions Act, we may have a Democratic Party majority in Congress, but more functionally, we still have a Congress that disdains the effort to protect the freedoms guaranteed us under the Bill of Rights.

    We will see, in a few short weeks, what kind of Congressman Michael Arcuri will really be. Will he work with other Democrats to take action on the Military Commissions Act? If he follows the new House leadership, it appears that he won't. Here's what the Washington Post's editorial board had to say this morning about the House Democratic leaderships apparent plan of inaction on the Military Commissions Act:

    "Future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently named three priorities for investigation, including private contracting in Iraq, the handling of Hurricane Katrina and the administration's formulation of energy policy. It's hard to understand why Democrats would insist on examining Vice President Cheney's first-term energy task force but would not seek to determine -- at last -- how senior military commanders and defense officials may have contributed to the prisoner abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. No one but low-ranking soldiers has been criminally prosecuted for the shocking abuse at Abu Ghraib, despite evidence that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and several top generals played a role in sanctioning practices such as sexually humiliating prisoners and threatening them with dogs. Democrats now will have the opportunity -- and the duty -- to insist on accountability."

    Allen Carstensen said...

    All hope is not lost. This is from Chris Dodd's website:

    November 16, 2006

    Washington- Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), an outspoken opponent of the Military Commission Act of 2006, today introduced legislation which would amend existing law in order to have an effective process for bringing terrorists to justice. This is currently not the case under the Military Commission Act, which will be the subject of endless legal challenges. As important, the bill would also seek to ensure that U.S. servicemen and women are afforded the maximum protection of a strong international legal framework guaranteed by respect for such provisions as the Geneva Conventions and other international standards, and to restore America’s moral authority as the leader in the world in advancing the rule of law.
    “I take a backseat to no one when it comes to protecting this country from terrorists,” Sen. Dodd said. “But there is a right way to do this and a wrong way to do this. It’s clear the people who perpetrated these horrendous crimes against our country and our people have no moral compass and deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But in taking away their legal rights, the rights first codified in our country’s Constitution, we’re taking away our own moral compass, as well.”
    The Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act:

    Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detainees
    Narrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants
    Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials
    Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable
    Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions
    Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight
    Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisions
    “We in Congress have our own obligation, to work in a bipartisan way to repair the damage that has been done, to protect our international reputation, to preserve our domestic traditions, and to provide a successful mechanism to improve and enhance the tools required by the global war on terror,” Dodd said.

    24 Independent said...

    Yes, but that's the Senate.

    There is no equivalent work in the House of Representatives, which is where Arcuri will soon serve.

    Anonymous said...

    Let's doing something practical now instead of waiting another two years.

    Allen Carstensen said...

    How about what Jerry Nadler is doing. He is going to being chairing a subcommittee (under John Conyer's Judiciary) called the Committee on the Constitution. He said the name of the committee used to be the Committee on Constitutional rights and Civil Liberties, until the republicans took over. They didn't like the words "Rights and Liberties" so they shortened the name. Nadler is going to change it back. I heard him on Air America. He's hot under the collar about the MCA.