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Guantanamo

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Guantanamo & Habeas Corpus
Stanley Rowe
Instructor: Carol Parker
POL201: American National Government (ACK1514E)
May 4, 2015

September 11, 2001, who will ever forget that date? I know that I won’t. I was a junior in high school and all of sudden the school went into automatic “lock down mode.” Not really understanding what was going on, until teachers turned the televisions on channels liken CNN, FOX News, and the local news station. That’s when we saw scrolling at the bottom of the screen, “Breaking News: THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HAD BEEN ATTACKED BY TERRORIST.” Some students were sitting in the classroom confused and afraid, some began to cry, some prayed, and some were silent. This was actually my first time fully understanding what terrorism was and what it looked like and I learned a lot of respect for the term “habeas corpus.” In this paper, I will discuss how habeas corpus came into existence, the case involving the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and the revellance of habeas corpus with the commander-in-chief.
Habeas corpus is an issued order of legal action for which unlawful detainees and prisoners can seek relief for unlawful imprisonment. (http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/habeas_corpus ) Derived from English common law, habeas corpus first appeared in the Magna Carta of 1215 and is the oldest human right in the history of English-speaking civilization; which was signed by King John. He stated, "No man shall be arrested or imprisoned...except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” (http://truth-out.org) The doctrine of habeas corpus stems from the requirement that a government must either charge a person or let him go free. (http://www.rutherford.org/constitutional ) One question that automatically pops up in my head is, why should terrorist be given the right to go to a U.S. courtroom and have a fair trial? Does it make sense? After researching my question and finding that I am not the only one who feels the same, I stumbled across a few answers that go deep within the history of the English man. Paul D. Halliday wrote a book entitled, "HABEAS CORPUS: From England to Empire and in this book he says, “the central purpose of habeas corpus has been to provide the means by which the judge might find the place at which liberty and physical security could be protected simultaneously by ensuring that subjects were imprisoned only according to law." (http://truth-out.org) After reading this information, this gave me a better understanding of the case involving Guantanamo Bay. There have been instances in the United States history dating back to the 1800’s during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus in order to keep the state legislator John Merryman from Maryland in custody of the Union Military; trying to stop the Union troops from Baltimore to Washington D.C. The Union troops held John Merryman at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, but this isn’t the only case that questions the suspensions of habeas corpus. In in 1941 on December 7th, the United States was attacked by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor on the island of Hawaii. This attack resulted in 188 US aircrafts being destroyed, more than 2,400 Americans were killed, and another 1,200 injured. This event ultimately led to the United States government turning a blind eye to the law. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese American were thrown into intermediate camps. As a result of this attack the nation was now entering World War II. There have been several cases coming out of Guantanamo Bay stating that the accused were held without being given a proper trial, so we are left to answer the question of “what really happened in the case of Guantanamo Bay?” As I stated at the beginning of my paper, 9-11 is one day that most Americans will never forget. This case is one of the most recent suspensions of habeas corpus. On September 11, 2001, agents of the al Qaeda terrorist organization hijacked commercial airplanes and attacked the World Trade Center in New York City and the national headquarters of the Department of Defense in Arlington, Virginia. Americans will never forget the devastation wrought by these acts. Nearly 3,000 civilians were killed. (http://guantanamobayteachin.blogspot.com) This attacked resulted in the effectiveness of The Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was signed on October 26, 2001 by President George Bush. It is an authorized indefinite detention without indictment for foreigners suspected of having ties to terrorist. In order to finally bring these prisoners to justice, special tribunals and military commission were created by Presidential decree; which was the military order on November 13, 2001. The November 13 Order authorized trial by military commission of anyone the President determines “there is reason to believe” (1) is or was a member or al Qaeda or (2) has engaged or participated in terrorist activities aimed at or harmful to the United States. (http://guantanamobayteching.blogspot.com) This executive act enables the trial. Years later suspects would began to get arrested. In August 2008, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who worked as a driver for Osama bin Laden, became the first Guantanamo detainee to go to trial before the military commissions. He was convicted of providing material support for terrorism. (http://hrw.org/features/guantanamo) Hamdan objected to being tried by the special military commission, claiming it had neither congressional Act nor the common law of war supports trial by this commission for the crime of conspiracy--an offense that, Hamdan says, is not a violation of the law of war. Moreover, Hamdan contends, the procedures that the President has adopted to try him violate the most basic tenets of military and international law, including the principle that a defendant must be permitted to see and hear the evidence against him. (http://guantanamobayteching.blogspot.com) So, what is the revelance of habeas corpus when it comes down to other branches of government and those in charge?
The main person in charge is the commander-in-chief, which is the president. President George Bush was the presiding president when 9-11 happened. Presidential Commander in Chief powers increase when Congressional intent supports the actions taken by the Commander in Chief. After 9-11, Congress passed the AUMF, Authorization of use of Military Force Against Terrorist. (http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/commander_in_chief) After 9-11 happened and suspects began getting arrested, there were held at a Guantanamo base for years. Thus resulting in the Detainee Act, which involves the case, Boumediene et al v. Bush; in 2008, an Algerian citizen challenged the constitutionality of this statute in Boumediene v. Bush (06-1195). The Court held that a Congressional suspension of habeas corpus requires an explicit suspension of the writ and that merely stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction does not actually suspend the writ. The Court also stated that the detainees lacked proper procedural safeguards to ensure they obtained fair trials and the ability to ascertain the nature of the charges against them. (http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/commander_in_chief)

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