Senate Judiciary Committee Votes to Restore Habeas

Committee Passes Legislation to Restore “The Great Writ” to Guantanamo Prisoners

The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act, legislation that would allow prisoners to ask a judge to review the legality of their detentions through a writ of habeas corpus. The right of habeas corpus has existed for centuries to protect individuals from wrongful detentions by the executive, but has been trampled by the Bush administration under the leadership of Alberto Gonzales and Donald Rumsfeld.

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

“The restoration of habeas is a moral and patriotic course of action that helps restore our constitutional system of checks and balances; it’s a shame that it apparently took a change in partisan control of the Senate to move this forward. It’s about time that the Senate took this action to check this blatant abuse of power by the Bush Administration. The attack on habeas corpus was an attack on the most basic right of individuals in a free society, and the most fundamental check on the governmental abuse of power.

“President Bush has done his best to inflame fears and convince us that those held at Guantanamo present an imminent threat to our county. But there must be some fundamentally fair process to identify those who have been justly detained while protecting the rights of innocent people caught up in the conflict and confusion of war.”

“Our nation is a nation of laws—laws to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. When the government begins to ignore those laws, the rights of all are in peril.

“Both houses of Congress should immediately pass legislation to restore habeas corpus.”

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