Out of balance with the Constitution
October 3, 2006
The president has launched another preemptive strike. This time he has aimed at the U.S. Constitution.
Under pressure from the president and the vice president, Congress recently passed the Military Commissions Act, which gives President Bush a blank check to mistreat detainees.
This is but one of many egregious elements in the bill. It continues to cede congressional and judicial authority to the president, further skewing the constitutional system of checks and balances.
The most trustworthy and honest president in the world should not be given the authority that Congress passed on to Bush.
It is sadly telling that Congress had to write a bill that explicitly states that “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions include rape, torture and biological experiments. Short of those acts, everything goes. At the same time, the bill gives the president the authority to interpret “the meaning and application” of the Geneva Conventions, something that Bush has been freely doing all along.
The bill essentially pardons every act that the Bush administration has committed since September 11th.
Bush and the Republicans pushed through this legislation with little serious discussion of its constitutionality or morality.
The suspension of habeas corpus rights for captured aliens more than just contravenes clear constitutional statutes. It also signals that a disregard for fundamental legal rights is, and will be, the standard operating mode for the current administration.
The new legislation allows hearsay evidence and evidence from coerced (read: tortured) interrogation. It denies detainees the right to examine evidence, and it denies them the right to challenge their designation as “unlawful enemy combatant.” If any other country on the planet constructed a similar system against Americans, the word “fascist” would fly out of every conservative mouth faster than a Dick Cheney bullet.
We must set right our system of checks and balances and reassert our faith in due process--before it’s too late.
Clarence Lusane is assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several works, including “Hitler’s Black Victims” (Routledge Press, 2002). He can be reached at email@example.com