WASHINGTON (Rooters agency) – By a large bipartisan majority, both houses of Congress today passed a bill suspending writs of habeas corpus.
In rather perfunctory debate, supporters rejected claims by a few opponents that the legislation was “unconstitutional.” They pointed out that the Constitution specifically allows for the suspension of habeas corpus in Article 1, Section 9:
“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.” The legislation passed today specifically declares that it is made necessary by “the requirements of public safety during the invasion by Terrorism” – “just in the unlikely case the Supreme Court gets a case of human rights jitters,” as one Representative put it in the House cloak room.
“And it’s not like it’s permanent,” said another. The bill specifies that it will expire “when the Terrorists surrender.”
Proponents of the legislation described habeas corpus as a “medieval” survival that was getting in the way of the War on Terrorism. “Appeasing our enemies makes America less safe and the world more dangerous,” argued Senator Texas Crude. “Our enemies are terrorists who want to restrict our oil production. That includes the Castros and the traitorous Americans who support them. The sooner they are all in jail, the better.”
Others noted that habeas corpus had been suspended by President Lincoln, and then by Congress, during the Civil War. And anyway, said another Senator, “It’s really been non-operational since at least 9/11, so we might as well make it official.”
A member of the House of Representatives, who asked not to be named because “I don’t want my voters to know that I read things,” pointed out that habeas corpus is believed to derive indirectly from the Magna Carta. This included the provision: “No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseized of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land.”
“You can imagine how difficult the war on terror would become if we had to follow that,” the Congressman said. “Fortunately, the Magna Carta is an English document, so it ceased to apply here at the time of the American Revolution. But we still have this related habeas corpus thing, and it obviously gets in the way of national security.
“Really, if the government can’t arrest people and hold them wherever it wants to for as long as it want to and do whatever it want to do to them, well, what is the government good for?”
The White House had earlier indicated its support for the legislation, and the President is expected to sign the bill in a public ceremony next week.