POL201 / American National Government
February 23, 2015
Civil Liberties, Habeas Corpus, and the War on Terror Heabeas Corpus has had our country and its representitives in turmoil for many years. The controversy being who should be able to exercise the right to habeas corpus and what should the prameters concerning it be. The laws and restrictions o=cnernng habeas corpus are not clear or definitive, creating strife, confusion, and loopholes that will ultimately bring despair to our contries leaders. Due to the 911 attakces hudreds of detainees, prisoners of war, terrorists are being held without the oppoetunity to file for habeas corpus due to territorial jusridiciton, separation of powers, and the rights of individuals.
After the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Bush Administration devised a solution for holding and interrogating captured prisoners by utilizing property formerly leased from Cube as the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo). Since that time many prisoners have detained and most released. This would allow for the prisoners to be just outside of the U.S. courts jurisdiction avoiding any oversight of how the prisoners would be entrusted or treated. However, as time has gone by and the number of prisoners has increased there has become a need for Congress to become more involved. Congress ultimately had to cut funding to transfer prisoners to detention facilities in the U.S. making the process less than desirable to try the prisoners of war in civilian courts.The evolution of Habeas Corpus has not been easy, painless, or even free from error; and will be a forever changing writ. Habeas corpus is Latin with the meaning you should have the body. In old English this term was meant to refer to a judge’s order (writ). Typically to be directed by a judge to some person who is detaining another, commanding him to bring the body of the person in his custody at a specified place for a specified reason. A writs’ sole purpose is to release an individual from and unlawful imprisonment. As early as the 14th century, there was mention and discussion of the Habeas Corpus Act. The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, was viewed as a privilege of the use of the writ as a safeguard against illegal imprisonment however this became abused and the Constitution of the United States provided that "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it" (Article 1, Section 9). In short this meant that prisoners (detainees) within the prison at Gitmo have direct access to federal court to challenge his/her imprisonment. In today’s society, usage of the writ is to appeal state criminal convictions to the federal courts when the petitioner believes his/her constitutional rights were violated by state procedure.It is noted that in 2005 Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act, eliminating habeas corpus for all detainees at Gitmo. This led to the Military Commissions Act, a new system of military tribunals to hear cases of Gitmo detainees in 2006.
Below are a few examples from U.S. history of the suspension of habeas corpus. President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War, and his decision was upheld by Congress—despite protests by Chief Justice Roger Taney that such suspension was not within the powers of the President. The Supreme Court's liberal decisions in the 1950s and 1960s in the area of prisoners' rights encouraged many incarcerated persons to file writs challenging their convictions, but the Court under William Rehnquist limited multiple habeas corpus filings, particularly from prisoners on death row. Also in 1950 Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was quoted as saying, granting detainees greater access to U.S. courts would cause the courts to become overburdened” and “the extension of habeas corpus to alien…