US removes key legal protection for non-citizens

20 June 2014: Unfortunately a couple of links in this article are no longer working.

US President George Bush this week signed a Bill removing the right of habeus corpus for non-US citizens. Within hours, the Government had asked US courts to strike out habeus corpus petitions which had been filed on behalf of detainees at the US military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba.

Critics of the law say it will inevitably be overturned as unconstitutional, but the process could take a year of legal wrangling. In the meantime, the more than 400 detainees at Guantanamo have no right to appear before a court or to hear the charges against them. (In most cases no charges have been filed.)

Moreover, the Bill, innocuously titled the Military Commissions Act, means the President can detain indefinitely anyone, anywhere in the world, whom he deems to be an “enemy combatant”. That’s particularly chilling in light of recent investigations which suggest that most of the “enemy combatants” held at Guantanamo are entirely innocent.

National Public Radio’s On the Media has links to more on the story, plus an audio interview with Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg who covers the Guantanamo detainees.