Fundamental Protections Central to Our System of Justice Thrown By the Wayside as Senate Passes Election-Year Tribunals Bill
People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s passage today of S. 3930, which denies fundamental legal protections to detainees of the United States:
"Senator John McCain has often noted how our system of justice makes us different from terrorists—how it gives us the moral high ground. While terrorists might resort to torture, it has long been against the law for Americans to do so. At least that used to be the case, before Senator McCain and others caved to the Bush administration and passed this atrocious measure.
"This legislation turns our system of justice upside down, betrays basic American values of fairness and justice, and undermines the rule of law. It gives the Bush administration a blank check to detain whoever it sees fit, and to use whatever interrogation techniques it wants, without oversight. It deprives detainees of habeas corpus—their right to challenge their imprisonment in the courts—and it may make them vulnerable to the use of secret or coerced evidence. Adding insult to injury, this legislation includes a blanket waiver letting members of this administration off the hook for potential violations of the law. What a disgrace.
"Some senators probably supported this measure because they were worried about being perceived as soft on terrorism. But capitulation doesn’t make them look strong. If they want to win the votes of people who are worried about security, they had better show that they know how to stand up and fight. Unfortunately for our democracy, too many of them have failed to do so today."