Habeas corpus isn't a fancy legal term. It's the freedom from being thrown in prison illegally, with no help and no end in sight. No president should ever be given the power to call someone an enemy, wave his hand, and lock them away indefinitely. The Founders made the president subject to the rule of law. They rejected dungeons and chose due process.
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We all know the difference between fairness and persecution. If we do not act immediately to fix the Military Commissions Act and restore our constitutional rights, basic protections like habeas corpus could be lost forever, and our country would become unrecognizable.
The MCA eliminates the constitutional due process right of habeas corpus for detainees at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere. It allows our government to continue to hold hundreds of prisoners for more than five years without charges.
It also gives any president the power to declare — on his or her own — who is an enemy combatant, decide who should be held indefinitely without being charged with a crime and define what is — and what is not — torture and abuse.
Two bills have been introduced in Congress that would restore habeas corpus rights to detainees and reaffirm that no president can make up his or her own rules regarding torture and abuse: The Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007 and The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act.
Our Constitution is what distinguishes America from other countries. It's what makes us Americans. To do away with its protections makes us more like those we are fighting against.
Congress made a mistake when they supported the MCA in 2006. But the ultimate responsibility lies with us, the people. We know what America stands for, at home and abroad. We have the power and the obligation to call on Congress to correct its mistake and restore habeas corpus and all the constitutional and due process rights they took away.