Today, Senate Republicans blocked a vote on the restoration of habeas corpus for certain foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay and on American soil, allowing the President to continue asserting that he has the right to imprison those suspected of being “enemy combatants” indefinitely, without any means to challenge their detention.
Forty-two Republican senators and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) voted against closing off debate on the bill, effectively blocking it on a 56-43 vote. Sixty votes would have been necessary to proceed.
Tanya Clay House, Public Policy Director for People For the American Way, issued the following statement:
“This vote allows President Bush to continue his unprecedented assertions of limitless power. As far as Congress is concerned, he can simply take foreign nationals – even immigrants living legally in the United States – and lock them up for as long he likes, with no meaningful review by an independent court. That’s not the American way. It raises the question of whether these 43 senators heard the judgment of the people last November, when they resoundingly defeated many of the President’s allies at the polls.
“With this vote, the Senate lost a chance to restore the image of our nation as a nation of laws, a nation of justice. Once, people the world over had faith that America was a country where you couldn’t just suddenly ‘disappear,’ taken away by the police in the night, never to be heard from again. Guilty or innocent, you would have your day in court.
“When we give up fundamental rights in the name of battling our enemies, we’ve lost our way. If we are fighting for ideals of justice and democracy abroad, we must uphold them here at home. Today, 43 senators missed a chance to show the world that we live by our ideals, and offer justice to all.”