White House Plan Would Demolish Constitutional Separation of Powers

A draft plan discussed today by the Senate Armed Services Committee showed that the Bush administration is planning to respond to its defeat in the Hamdan case by pushing Congress to give it limitless authority to try even more defendants in military tribunals that provide few of the protections of our judicial system.

People For the American Way president Ralph G. Neas released the following statement:

“This is breathtaking arrogance. The Supreme Court slaps down the Bush Administration’s claim that it can try people without providing them with fundamental due process rights – and the Bush administration responds by seeking even greater powers. This plan is a direct threat to the letter and spirit of the Geneva conventions.

“The plan would allow Secretary Rumsfeld to try an even broader range of people without revealing the charges, without allowing the defendant to confront his accuser, and without the defendant even present at his own trial. It would allow evidence obtained through coercion and hearsay to be used without restraint. It’s a nightmarish vision of what a justice system should be.

“This plan shows complete disrespect for the Supreme Court and it shows a disturbing willingness to ignore international treaties and the rule of law. It’s clear that the President views any constraints on his power as inappropriate.

“Our soldiers already face grave dangers in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the President ignores the international treaties that demand the humane treatment of prisoners, those dangers will only increase, and further jeopardize U.S. soldiers around the world.

“The Supreme Court spoke clearly in the Hamdan case. Now, the White House is trying to subvert that ruling. It’s time for the third branch of our government to assert its power. Our elected representatives in Congress should immediately reject this plan. Americans deserve nothing less.”

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