Monday, April 23, 2007

Michael Arcuri Relents On Military Commissions Act

There's great news for the people of New York's 24th congressional district this week. Mike Arcuri, who is in his first months of representing us in the U.S. House, has relented on the Military Commissions Act.

It was a great disappointment to many people here last year when, as a candidate, Michael Arcuri said that he thought the Military Commissions Act was a great idea, and that if he were in Congress, he would have voted for it. The Military Commissions Act represents the kind of abuse of power that the Democratic Party is supposed to stand against.

  • It revoked the protection of habeas corpus.
  • It ended enforcement of the Geneva Conventions.
  • It legalized torture.
  • It replaced the authority of ordinary American courts with a new system of kangaroo courts with outrageously low standards of justice, and trials conducted in secret
  • It replaced the presumption of innocence with the presumption of guilt
  • It gave the President of the United States the power to arbitrarily imprison someone without trial, stripping people of their rights through the declaration of their status as "enemy"

    The problem was that when he said he approved of the Military Commissions Act, candidate Michael Arcuri and his campaign staff had not bothered to actually read the legislation. They didn't know what a terrible thing they were supporting.

    Since Arcuri has become a member of Congress, however, he has been persuaded to consider the actual contact of the Military Commissions Act. Looking at the facts of what the Military Commissions Act does, it appears that Congressman Arcuri has come to the reasonable conclusion that the Military Commissions Act's assaults on the foundations of American freedom are unacceptable.

    Michael Arcuri has added his co-sponsorship to H.R. 1415, the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007. This new legislation comes the closest of any legislation in the House of Representatives to repealing the Military Commissions Act. It was originally sponsored by veteran congressman from New York State Jerrold Nadler, though it is essentially the same bill that was written for the Senate by Christopher Dodd, who is also running for the Democratic nominaton for President in 2008 on the basis of his opposition to the Military Commissions Act.

    If only it didn't take so long for Arcuri to be persuaded to reverse his position, some good might have been done. However, Congressman Arcuri seems only willing to take a principled stand when it isn't election time.