Habeas corpus has protected us for eight centuries against unjust detention, without charges or trial. There are currently about 14,000 people, including women and children, held in detention by the CIA around the globe. If they are our enemies, we should be able to demonstrate this in a court of law. If we are not able to demonstrate their crimes and hostile actions, we should not be detaining them. We should most certainly not be detaining children without charges and evidence. Every prisoner should be entitled to humane treatment, and to hear the charges and the the evidence against them in a court of law.
Michael Ratner, with Sara Miles, write in Salon:
Considered the hallmark of Western liberty, habeas corpus has its origins in the Magna Carta of 1215. The “Great Writ” ended kings’ power to kidnap people at will, lock them in dungeons and never bring them to court. Habeas corpus forever marked the line between authority under law and authority that thinks it is the law.
. . . two questions remain at the center of legislation about the rights of prisoners in Guantánamo.
The first, about torture and the Geneva Conventions, is straightforward: Are we human beings?
The second, about habeas corpus, is, do we believe in the rule of law?
Our present administration has repeatedly demonstrated they do not believe in the rule of law.