Expanding the right to detain and torture

In a hasty attempt to win elections, Congress takes a jab at the Constitution.

Congress has passed the military tribunal bill – a piece of legislation that abrogates crucial elements of international law and institutes incomplete definitions of torture.

One of the most debated components of the legislation is the right for detainees to receive habeas corpus. Habeas corpus allows the defendant to have the right to challenge the imprisonment. However, efforts to amend the military trials bill to include habeas corpus rights were blocked, and detainees no longer have the right to challenge their imprisonment.

The new legislation questions the process of judicial review by preventing and denying courts from viewing information from military courts with the exception of the verdicts by military tribunals. In this bill, information obtained from torture and other coercive measures may be used in court.

Furthermore, the bill also includes a narrow definition of what can be considered torture. The notion of cruel and unusual punishment is defined so loosely that it only includes “severe” mental and physical pain. Interestingly, the new bill is structured in a way that rape does not even fall into the category of torture. If rape isn’t torture, then how gruesome must an act be for the state to classify it as torture? Not only does the bill define torture in only extremely severe offenses, but also it broadly defines the enemy to include both U.S. citizens and citizens in other countries – both who are now subject to indefinite detainment.

With elections drawing near, the timing of this bill is merely an election gimmick to the Republicans who staunchly supported the bill. Democrats, who opposed the bill but feared being labeled a “terrorist supporter,” voted for the bill fearing losses. Shame on both parties, caring more for personal and party victory over the presence of democracy and human rights. How ironic that the new anti-terrorism bill actually encourages torture and denies everyone more rights, whether one is a citizen of this state or not. The only category of people this bill protects is CIA officers, and government officials. It does nothing for Americans and the rest of the global world.