Monday, May 21, 2007

Jonathan Hafetz on Habeas Corpus

Jonathan Hafetz, of the Brennan Center for Justice, has written an excellent white paper Ten Things You Should Know About Habeas Corpus. In nine pages, Hafetz makes short work of the Bush administration's unprecedented assault on that venerable cornerstone of our legal system.

last week, Hafetz addressed the the National Press Club regarding the restoration of habeas corpus. His remarks are worth reading.

Here is a highlight:

The Administration and other supporters of the recent court-stripping Military Commissions and Detainee Treatment Acts argue that federal judges should not be in the business of exercising this review and that habeas corpus has not been able to foreign nationals during wartime. Those arguments are misinformed: habeas has been available in wartime, both to citizens and non-citizens alike. But, more importantly, it is the very nature of the so-called “Global War on Terrorism” that makes habeas so essential. Unlike past conflicts, this struggle has no clearly identifiable enemies, no recognizable battlefields, and no foreseeable end. Some in the Administration now refer to it as “the long war.” It is precisely the indeterminate, open-ended nature of this struggle that increases the risk that government officials will detain innocent people based upon unfounded suspicion, innuendo, or mistake. (Indeed, a confidential CIA memo written in 2002 reported that most of the Guantanamo detainees “didn’t belong there”; regrettably, it was ignored by Administration officials in Washington). And since the “Global War on Terror” will last for generations, mistakes are of greater, potentially lifelong – consequence to those wrongfully imprisoned as “enemy combatants.”