Kill Bill - Neutering Bush's torture law

Of the many good things we are beginning to see before the newly-constituted Democratic Congress even assumes power, one of the most gratifying is the move by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) to neuter the hideous Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), passed by the Republicans, and signed by George W. Bush in October.

On Friday, Dodd introduced legislation to amend Bush's "torture bill," remove the almost-dictatorial powers it has given the White House and neutralize the bastardizing effect it's had on the United States Constitution.

"I strongly believe that terrorists who seek to destroy America must be punished for any wrongs they commit against this country," said Dodd, in introducing this important measure. "But in my view, in order to sustain America’s moral authority and win a lasting victory against our enemies, such punishment must be meted out only in accordance with the rule of law."

The text of the MCA may fill almost 40 pages, but it only takes a few paragraphs of Dodd's 10-page Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act (S.4060) to render its most onerous aspects moot.

I analyzed Dodd's bill over the weekend and am writing this piece to give you the basics of how it fixes the Constitutional ruin imposed by the MCA and puts the power of the executive branch of government back in its rightful place.

This should tell you all you need to know about both the disease and the cure.

Restoring Habeas Corpus Protections

No area of the MCA has drawn more justifiable fire than the section suspending Habeas Corpus -- the rights of people deemed by the White House to be "enemy combatants" to challenge the legality of their arrest and detention.

Section 7 of the MCA says that "No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination."

In other words, don’t bother calling a lawyer, because you have no rights.

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