With Stroke of the Pen, Bush Kills Habeas Corpus

Crooks & Liars has a wrap-up from Keith Olbermann on Bush’s latest shameful signature, the Military Commissions Act of 2006:

Bush_bill“Today, 135 years to the day after the last American President (Ulysses S. Grant) suspended habeas corpus, President Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006. At its worst, the legislation allows President Bush or Donald Rumsfeld to declare anyone — US citizen or not — an enemy combatant, lock them up and throw away the key without a chance to prove their innocence in a court of law. In other words, every thing the Founding Fathers fought the British empire to free themselves of was reversed and nullified with the stroke of a pen, all under the guise of the War on Terror.”

Jonathan Turley, Professor of Constitutional Laws at George Washington University, lays it all out: “The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to Dancing With the Stars.”

Battle brewing:

Bush: “One of the most important pieces of legislation in the war on terror.”
ACLU: “One of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history.”

(via virtual matter, video via wonkette)


  1. dc-20008 says

    I am disgusted and outraged that Bush has this authority and that Congress gave it to him!

    I however live in Washington DC and have NO conregressional representation (Taxation w/o Representation), so it is up to all of you in states with Senators and Representatives to get rid of these anti-American jerks and vote in people who will overturn this travesty.

    This is a dark day for America.

  2. Michael W. says

    Well, I’m certainly outraged, but what can we do??? I have every confidence the control of congress will be in the hands of the Democrats after November elections but what will they do? What can anybody fucking do?!? I’m tired of people making the claim that “American yawns” when there are people who care very much but dammit, we all fucking voted in 2004 and it still didn’t do any goddamn good. Jesus!

  3. LiamOg says

    The Democrats won’t do anything–they helped pass this piece of rubbish legislation! My two Democratic senators, Menendez and Lautenberg, both voted for this. Menendez is up for election (he was named to the Senate by Gov. Jon Corzine) and doesn’t deserve to serve a full term, but his opponent, Tom Kean, will continue to give Bush whatever he wants. So where’s the difference between the parties, and what’s a NJ voter supposed to do?
    Lautenberg should be ASHAMED of himself, as an American and as Jew. I guess he has forgotten the Nuremburg Laws of 1935.

  4. The_Jaded_Bitter_Bitch says

    The Republican’s have stated the gay marriage is a bigger threat to America than the terrorist. I believe there are gay married couples in Massachusetts that should be concerned about the GOP’s enemies list.

  5. jimmyboyo says


    yeah 34 dem house reps and a few dem senators all voted for this piece of crap

    We have NO assurance that dems will take enough seats to override bush….majority control might not be enough votes.

    BUT!! There is hope. lawyers for 20 detaines at quantanimo filed appeals to go all the way to the supreme court after congress passed it but before bush signed it

    The supremes is where it can and will be stopped. Remember , this bill came about because the Supremes rejected bush’s earlier stance that he could do all that the bill said without it being a written law (he had already been doing it), and the supremes rejected that. bush and rove think that having it written into law will let it fly……but unconstitutional is unconstitutional

    Have hope in the Supreme court, especialy since bush has not stacked the court completly in his favor yet (and if dems take control of congress then he won’t ever be able to stack the court in his favor)

  6. Anon says

    Well, this is going back into the federal courts. The law was in response to the Hamdan ruling by the SC that detainees needed some judicial oversight. There will probably be an injunction issued by one federal court or another.

  7. rob adams says

    Simple Solution: Vote Democrat
    Then Watch: The “First 100 Hours” …

    Democrats will…
    [] reinstate the Bill of Rights
    [] properly fund our Public Schools
    [] delete Big Oil’s tax-breaks
    [] close US/CIA Torture Centers
    [] declasify many, many, “vital documents”

    Or, you can not vote, party/shop, and let the Christian-FarRight do the deciding for you in one more national election.


  8. dc-20008 says

    The problem with those suits by the detainees is that it is not clear that they now have standing.

    The law can also be read that the law takes away their rights to sue the Gov’t.

    Bush can drive down Connecticut Ave and point out people in the street and have them locked up and they have NONE, ZERO, ZILCH recourse.

    We should be rioting in the streets!!!!!!

  9. Leland says

    Years ago, some gay bashers emerged from the bushes where they’d been hiding and attacked me and some friends, and, even after I’d been knocked to the ground by some kind of club, my mind, while I was looking up at one of them trying to hit me again, even though I was well aware of such things, kept spinning, “What just happened COULDN’T have just happened! There MUST be some other explanation!”

    Repeatedly since he even won the GOP nomination in 2000, I’ve been experiencing the same kind of cognitive dissonance. And, thinking with each demonstration of his incompetence; with each instance of his exploiting the worst in people to gain and retain power; with each twist and turn of his verbal and legalitic gay bashing; with each new casuality report from Iraq; each new revelation of its insane conception and execution; with each new book filled with documentation of lies and deceptions and malfeasance; with each drop in his approval polls—I’ve thought: “THIS time Americans will see through the charade. THIS time Americans will see him for what he really is and is not; THIS time America will stand up, if not for gay Americans, at least for their sons and daughters being slaughtered in Iraq; for the 14,000 being held by our government without habeas corpus in prisons around the world; at least for the eight million children in the US without health insurance. But, no, the nightmare continues and I can’t wake up.

    If years from now, “Science” magazine has an article about a mysterious substance that was found in the municipal water supplies across the country that appeared able to “sedate” large percentages of the population, I would TOTALLY believe it.

  10. jimmyboyo says

    Well, all i know is that the week leading up to the congressional vote on this crap….I posted quite a few rants on here 9as well as other places) about it , what was happening, what it meant, etc

    Pretty much I was considered crazy

    I am more than happy to hear others now getting upset, but pardon me for 1 moment of I warned and posted about this crap coming down and that you all should have called your congressional reps


    Ok, that said

    We need to make sure we vote dem, we get others to vote dem, we drive little old ladys who like to vote dem to the polls

    Donate time and or money to such groups as the ACLU

    and pray that the supreme court does something (this coming from an atheist)

    Oh and organize some protests (but make sure they don’t arrest yiou because we might never hear from you again)

  11. dc-20008 says

    I asked my co-worker and she laughed and said, “oh it will get overturned.” WHAT??? There is no guarantee of that!!

    I asked my partner–a teacher–if they are discussing it in school. He said no one had.

    Like Elie Weisel said, “…and when they came for me there was no one left…”

  12. David says

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

    Pastor Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller

  13. David says

    You know – that’s just one attribution. There is some uncertainty as to the actual provenance of the sentiment. I just wanted to echo your statement – as it occurred to me when the bill was signed.

    I agree with Leland. When am I going to wake up?

  14. RB says

    Well I agree with one thing Rob Adams said…”you can not vote, party/shop, and let the Christian-FarRight do the deciding for you in one more national election.” If ALL gays, IN BOTH PARTIES, voted it would be a different world. WE tend to stay home, shop, party, etc. on election day though! 2% of us actually make it to the polls…pathetic to say the least!

  15. JT says

    I have this recurring nightmare that he is going to decide that the “war on terror” is too important to be left to a successor and that he’s going to try to stop the 2008 elections. Why not, really, if the Constitution carries so little weight with him?

  16. adam says

    I think our civil liberties have been so horribly abused over the past 6 years that this is just nothing new in the “war on terror” that Bush and crew has seemed to propogandize for the red state sect. I don’t think most rational people know what they can do anymore…certainly not oust this crew of liars and thieves.

  17. Richard says

    I don’t understand what you are all afraid of. Do you really think that Bush is going to drive by you, point you out and have you arrested? Why should a terrorist have any rights at all? This isn’t aimed at you and me walking down the street. If you aren’t doing anything wrong, then go on with your liberal life.

    Would you rather have a terrorist blow you up?

    Frankly I sort of like living in the fascist state, then the bleedin’ liberals can’t screw up everything the Republicans try to do which is for the safety of us all.


  18. JT says

    Oh, Richard, I haven’t seen anything from you for quite a while on Towleroad and I was beginning to think things were looking up for you. I’m sorry you’ve stopped taking your meds. You’re in my thoughts.

  19. jimmyboyo says


    Let me guess

    You used to be a comisar back in the sioviet union before it crumbeled…….

    Bush makes you all hot and sweaty because you are reminded of your glorious youth of goose stepping , turning in family members to the secret police, torturing little old ladys who question the great leader, etc

  20. RB says


    Please do not worry yourself with the above responses, as I am sure that you will not. I have become accustomed to the name calling. It is very becoming of our peers here, but I agree with you in theory. No one in the Bush administration is worried with you and I. Sadly enough, we are TOO BORING!

    When you are worried about true national security you are not looking for who is gay. Bush could care less what we write or WHAT WE ARE! He is looking out for our ability to continue to post here because we are still alive.

    Anyway, I believe in the republican party and vote repub…but I voice my opinion on gay rights. Not only do I show up at the polls as many gays DO NOT, I voice my opinion on my rights as a gay man and a parent.

    Vote republican, I don’t care. VOTE AT ALL…I CARE! WE DO NOT SHOW UP AT THE POLLS! Going forward, if you do not vote I will not care. In the interum, nice post Richard!

  21. D. R. H. says

    Hypothetically speaking, an Iraqi civilian, no different than any American civilian, has part of, or all, of their family bombed or slaughtered or kidnapped or murdered. Can they be blamed for any rage which might motivate them to strap on an explosive device and blow themselves up within range of an American military patrol? Should that person be expected to continue supporting his glorious invaders and their dreams of an Iraqi democracy?
    Consider that since Bush’s invasion, an estimated 655,000 Iraqis have lost their lives and are 58 times more likely to die a violent death than before Bush invaded. How could this possibly be making America any safer? Bush’s America is creating an entire nation of terrorists and, unbelievably, they are completely unable to see this. The impact of Bush’s involvment in Iraq will be devastating to what world peace there could ever have been in our future.
    For those Americans who steadfastly follow the Republican propoganda machine, how can you not see this? How can you deny the possbility that these numbers might be true? When do you see a so called “victory” in the so called “war on terror” occuring? Bush’s policies have set the stage for generations of terrorists to come. I feel far less safe than I ever have.
    The problem in America is not with phantom terrorists conjured up by Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld, but rather, with the ignorance and political dogma that Republican faithfuls practice without compromise or consideration that their leaders may, in fact, be wrong. The problem with fighting a “war on terror” is that by killing innocent, ordinary people, you only motivate their surviving family members to want to kill you. Invade any country, not just an Islamic one, and you’re going to experience the same outcome.

  22. John says

    This all started with the Civil War when the constitutional right of states to seceed was superceded by the Federal Government’s imperialistic desires.The Founding Fathers rolled over in their graves at that instance and they have been doing the rock and roll in their coffins ever since. Bush is not doing anything which Abraham Lincoln, the hero for most Americans, did when he suspended the right of Habeas Corpus for the sake of “The Union”. President’s like to keep us at war, because they are able to assume greater power than in peacetime. Both Democratic and Republican parties have played along with this tendency. That is why I waste my vote and vote Libertarian when I can, just to ease my conscience.

  23. FuckJihadis says

    Obviously this will be an unpopular opinion, but I for one say good riddance to these terrorist assholes.

    They absolutely do not deserve the full protection of the U.S. legal system. The vast majority of the nice fellows in custody were caught on the battlefield in Afghanistan and would kill you or me given the first opportunity (most likely with glee given their deep affinity for us “gays”). The only reason they weren’t blasted to visit their 72 skanky virgins during battle is that they might have proferred up some useful information about their infidel-hating buddies. After they’ve yielded up everything they’re going to yield up, I frankly don’t care what happens to them. And no, this law will have absolutely no effect on my civil liberties whatsoever.

    The alternative, giving these douchebags full access to publicity- and money-hungry defense attornies such as Lynne Stewart, endless appeals, access to classified information and using our courtrooms as pulpits for their bullshit jihad diatribes just ain’t gonna happen. Rarely, but fortunately, the Republicans sometimes get something right.

  24. Pompeius says

    Is Olbermann correct?

    The suspension of Habeus Corpus in the Act does not appear to apply to US citizens. Read here:

    “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.”

    Note words: “…an alien…”

    So, all this talk of Bush being able to point at people on the street, “US citizen or not,” arrest them, then deny them Habeus is a bunch of hysterical hyberbole, it would seem. Or am I missing something?

  25. RB says

    Well I certainly could not agree more with Fuckjihadis and Popeius!!! And I can assure you one thing; George W. Bush is far less a threat to gays than the fundamentalist muslims of the middle east!!! At least here if you are “caught” being gay you are not hung by YOUR GOVERNMENT! Again, W does NOT care that you are gay. He may not want to give us equal marriage rights, which I do not agree with, but he does not care none the less.

    In regards to D.R.H., lets talk about “propoganda”. You certainly have passion in your words, but lack concrete facts. The last time I checked, U.S. citizens were not being “hunted down” and killed by their government the way Saddam did. He systematically tried to remove an entire group of people from his population!

    “BAGHDAD, Iraq – Two Kurdish witnesses at Saddam Hussein’s genocide trial gave harrowing accounts yesterday of surviving killing fields where guards executed hundreds of detainees at a time in sprays of gunfire.

    One said he fell wounded into a ditch full of bodies. He said he climbed out and ran for his life past mounds in the desert, the mass graves of other victims in a 1987-88 military offensive against Iraq’s Kurds.”

    Does anyone remember this happening in our history? Try Hitler!!! Many people in European countries thought he was a “good guy” in the beginning too!!! History will prove that Saddam was right there with Hitler and we did the right thing.

    I think we really need to look at reality here. These people want us dead for being American let alone GAY! They are NOT U.S. citizens and are not entitled to habeus corpus!

  26. Richard says

    The problem with all you Dem’s is that you feel that everyone has to live in your world. Fortunately, you are living in ours.

  27. dc-20008 says

    Issue 1: Everyone who disagrees with Bush is not a Democrat. There are other political parties as well as Independent. Get a clue.

    Issue 2: The suspension of Habeus applies to ANYONE determined by Bush to be an enemy combatant. There is NO distiguishing between US or non-US persons.

  28. dc-20008 says

    (sorry hit submit too soon)
    Issue 3: This law does not go away at the end of Bush’s presidency. All presidents from here forward can use it–for good or ill.

    Those who say terrorists don’t deserve Habeus–fine–I agree. But if one man can decide what or who is a terrorist, that is terrifying AND un-American.

    I for one will not give up MY civil rights to Bush or any other president.

  29. D. R. H. says

    Thanks RB, you’re absolutely correct. Saddam Hussein was undoubtedly an evil, cold-blooded murderer and the world will be the better for his removal. The problem with your point having any relevance is that Saddam had been so for decades, and, despite this fact, the U.S. government saw no problem with it until Bush came along. Ronald Reagan even leant his support in the form of money and weapons when American oil interests became threatened by the new Iranian fundamentalist government.
    Coincidentally, the U.S. also gave support to another tyrant, he was fighting with the mujahadeen in Afghanistan when the Russians were trying to invade that country; one who seems to have been forgotten by Bush and Friends; one who ultimately is the cause of all our fighting. Remember Osama? Oh yeah, that guy. Isn’t it funny how old friends can become new enemies?

  30. Pompeius says

    DC-20008, what is the source for your assertion that the Habeus provision of the law applies to citizens, in light of my quote of it above, which clearly states it can only apply to “an alien” enemy combatant?

  31. dc-20008 says

    Read Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Also, per the quote at the top of this Blog item. Also the ACLU. Everyone is saying it.

    Your quote above pertains specifically to rights of aliens. Not to US citizens.

    What Bush has done is get Congress to give him authority to do exactly what he did to Jose Padilla–a US citizen. Locked up and tossed the key and removed all judicial recourse.

  32. JT says

    DC-2008: as much as I hate to admit it (being a total Bush-hater), the new law does not include citizens in the group for whom the writ of habeus corpus may be denied. The problem is that the Constitution does not limit the applicability of the habeus corpus provisions. President Bush and his cronies will, I’m sure, find an excuse to apply the law to citizens as well as to “aliens.” Incidentally, I think the first application will be to naturalized Americans, claiming that they came to this country and are, therefore, “aliens.”

  33. Pompeius says

    “Everyone is saying it.”

    Well, as my mother always said to me, “just because everyone is running over a cliff, doesn’t mean you have to as well.” :)

    Sullivan and Olbermann are not really authoritative sources. They are bloggers/journalists who may very well have made a factual mistake in forming their opinions. And thats what I’m wondering about…did they goof? A plain reading of the statute indicates they did indeed goof. And badly!

    However, if they are I right and I am wrong…I’d like to see the part of the statute that indicates so. I can find no such part. Again, thats why I’m asking.

  34. Pompeius says

    JT, actually, the law defines whan an “alien” is explicitely as “a person who is not a citizen of the United States” [Sec.948a (3)]. So, there does not appear to be a way for the Bush administration to weasel around it like you suggest.

  35. JT says

    Pompeius: Thank you! I seriously mistrust him so much that I’m probably getting paranoid. You’re sure?

  36. Anon says

    I believe the problem with the law is that while aliens get no HC review, citizens get only a very limited review, where the evidence presented to the judge is strictly the opinion of the president and his agents. It’s sort of a “you gotta trust us on this” kind of review.

  37. Richard says

    I have no issue at all with the torture of a terrorist. In fact just shoot them because I really don’t want my tax money spend on feeding them.

  38. LincolnLounger says

    Thank God America voted to keep America safe by electing George W. Bush. I can only imagine the coddling these terrorists would have received from a John Kerry administration. The Clinton Administration practically sent out engraved invitations inviting terrorists to kill Americans (Remember the USS Cole!) Somebody ought to kick Madeline Albright’s ass. Habeas Corpus? Boo frickin’ hoo.