First of all, Kieth Olbermann's vile little piece of
But to the merits:
Habeas Corpus is disallowed only as to alien UECs, who ARE subject to the military commissions. Before that, all detainees are processed through an initial administrative fact finding to determine why they're there (to separate out the grudge cases from the terrorists). It’s called a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, and includes with it a right to an appeal. It’s not a habeas writ, but it does provide an avenue for alien detainees to challenge their detention (with an appeal), which is what everyone is hyperventilating over. And it's not even new with the new bill - that provision was passed by Congress last December. And as I understand it, the CSRTs weren't new, either, but merely codifications (important, I think) of pre-existing policies already in place in our detention facilities.
Citizens can be UECs, but they may still bring the writ of habeas corpus to challenge their detention. Anyone who says or implies differently either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or is lying to your face. The people can decide for themselves which one Olbermann is guilty of.
Interestingly, we only keep the worst of the worst - we let the Iraqi and Afghani government keep the run-of-the-mill baddies. Any guess as to where the detainees would RATHER go?
Congress has the clear Constitutional authority to suspend HC in times of “invasion [when] the public safety may require it.” And that goes for citizens, too. I’m not surprised that neither John Kerry, Arlen Specter, nor Patrick Leahy understand we’re at war, or that foreigners are attempting to enter our country to do us harm, but that’s why none of those guys could get elected President, or should be listened to now.
Suspending habeas for alien combatants in a time of war seems to me not only fully constitutional, but clearly the right thing to do. When have POWs ever been granted trials? And why should we grant trials to murderous scum who wouldn't even qualify as POWs for their penchant to bomb children and not wear uniforms? Besides, since this is not only not an across-the-board suspension, but a carefully considered limitation far less onerous than in virtually every other military engagement this nation has fought in, something tells me Olbermann’s unencumbered-by-fact “obituary” is a bit premature.
To me, there’s an even larger policy consideration that seems to be missed in the larger debate. If we determined that only enemy combatants that played by the rules, wore uniforms, didn’t target civilians, etc. could be held without trial, in their case as POWs, then as a matter of policy we would be encouraging our enemies to “fight dirty.” “The Americans are coming! Quick – strip off your uniform! You get a lawyer and a trial that way, with the ACLU’s finest lawyers who will believe all your lies! It beats summary and indefinite detention, and you might even get a signed picture from Susan Sarandon before you're let go to kill more Americans...”
Here are some actual Constitutional scholars talking about the issue, with many of their far better reasoned (and real) legal concerns. Thank God Congress ignored the Constitutional Chicken Littles and did the right thing to keep the country safe.
UPDATE: I just got called a "legal scholar" on the Olbermann Watch blog. I'm a little embarassed to be sandwiched between Andrew McCarthy and Mark Levin, but I'm honored anyway. Thanks for the link, and thanks for reading, everyone.