This phrase embodies the democratic principle – enshrined in our Constitution – that government officials cannot arbitrarily arrest you, lock you up, and throw away the key. Habeus corpus – which literally means “produce the body” – is an essential safeguard against a police state, for it allows anyone to go to a court of law to challenge their imprisonment.
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The founders insisted that there be legal checks on our officials (even the president) to prevent them from the exercise of naked governmental power. Habeus corpus is the legal procedure requiring government officials to present evidence that there is a reason to imprison someone. They can’t just do it on executive whim.
Until now, that is. George W asserts that, as a “war president,” he is not bound by such constitutional niceties as habeus corpus. Not only is he claiming that he can grab anyone off our streets and even have them tortured – he has been doing it.
The shameful case of Maher Arar is one glaring example. He was seized by federal agents in New York in 2002 and – denied the right to habeus corpus – was zipped away to Syria, where he was tortured for a year before it finally dawned on his brutal inquisitors that he was innocent.
Far from acknowledging their horrific error, much less apologizing to Arar and to our nation’s founders, the Bushites have tried to brush off their responsibility. “We were not responsible for [Arar’s] removal to Syria,” lied Bush’s boneheaded attorney general, Alberto “See No Evil” Gonzales. When the media caught him in this lie, Gonzales’ spokesman blamed his comment on a bureaucratic misunderstanding, saying: “He had his timeline mixed up.”
This is Jim Hightower saying… Damn right, he did. The Bushites think this is 1706, not 2006, and that George is the royal highness – not merely a president who is required to honor the people’s Constitutional protections, including habeus corpus.
“The Torture of Liberty,” The New York Times, September 21, 2006.
“Justice Dept. Defends Remark in Torture Case,” The New York Times, September 21, 2006.
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