Monday, March 29, 2004

Bush's Forward Vision
In the 1660s, England's Lord Clarendon was in the habit of sending prisoners to remote islands and military garrisons in order to put them out of reach of the due process protections afforded by English courts. For these misdeeds, Clarendon was impeached, and in 1679 Parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act which made it illegal to ship prisoners away to deprive them of their rights.

It appears the Bush administration never got that memo.

According to a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court by a group of military lawyers who have been assigned as defense counsel for prisoners held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Clarendon's effort to evade habeas corpus is the closest and most recent precedent to what the Bush administration is doing in Guantanamo today.

'So far as (we are) aware, the American government has never before consciously created a trial process, courtroom, and other accoutrements of judicial process outside the battlefield and housed them all in an area calculated to divest civilian jurisdiction,' the attorneys wrote.


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