What part of Habeas Corpus do people not understand? Here’s a short and simple explanation: The King (meaning the government) can’t say, “I don’t like that guy. Lock him up in a dungeon without a trial and throw away the key.” The right of habeas corpus is guaranteed in the original Constitution, which means Thomas Jefferson thought it was so important it should be included in the basic rules of the country’s legal system. This was before the first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights) were passed.
I think this might be a short diary, but as I start to get angry it might start to get longer. I’m writing this because one of my Facebook friends linked to this Mother Jones article: Is the US Getting Domestic Indefinite Military Detention for Thanksgiving?, from which this is quoted:
Legislative language that emerged from the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday afternoon would mandate the automatic, indefinite military detention of noncitizens apprehended in the United States who are suspected members of Al Qaeda or associated groups. The wording, which is part of a must-pass bill to fund the military, also appears to allow the indefinite military detention of citizens and legal permanent residents.
Indefinite detention. Which means detention (lock them up in a dungeon) and indefinite (throw away the key). Indefinite detention. Possibly applying to all citizens. More below the Fleur de Kos squiggle of power.
I’m not going to ramble on. In my very first DKos diary in 2009, I wrote about Habeas Corpus. If you’re interested, you can read it here: You shall have the body brought to me (Habeas Corpus). People seemed to like it and I seemed to like the people on DKos, so I kept writing diaries.
And here’s a great excerpt from the movie “A Man For All Seasons.” If you don’t want to watch all 3 minutes, skip ahead to about the 2:00 minute mark.
Father, that man’s bad.
And continue watching for these delicious words (towards the end of the video):
William Roper: So, now you'd give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.
This debate happened in 16th century. Arrest him because he’s bad. Ignore Habeas Corpus.
What if a President of the U.S, let’s say Barack Obama, had the power to lock up people he didn’t like? Let’s say he declared Eric Cantor or Grover Norquist or Mitch McConnell or Rush Limbaugh was a terrorist and tossed them in a dungeon without a trial, without the benefit of Habeas. Or let’s say someone like GW Bush threw Teddy Kennedy or Al Franken in jail. That wouldn’t be fair, would it?