The following are the major components of the Military Commissions Act, passed into law in the fall of 2006:
- It revokes habeas corpus, thereby giving the president power to imprison people without trial for as long as the president likes
- It gives George W. Bush and other top officials legal amnesty for war crimes he may have committed
- It legalizes torture
- It allows testimony obtained under torture to be used against a detainee
- It places court proceedings into closed settings never to be seen by the public
- It creates a secret committee controlled by the President that can declare anyone to be an enemy combatant, stripped of legal rights guaranteed by the Constitution
- It removes the right to a speedy trial
- It removes protections for prisoners of war by the Geneva Conventions
When the Democrats took control of Congress in the wake of the 2006 elections, they committed to overturning the Military Commissions Act. Only one of the provisions, the habeas corpus provision, has been overturned — and that was by a ruling of the Supreme Court, not by any act of Congress.
The House and Senate, both controlled by the Democratic Party, simply have had no time in the nearly two years since the passage of the Military Commissions Act to consider its repeal. But the Senate had the time on June 24 to rename a part of State Route 20 in western New York the “Tim Russert Highway.” The House is taking the time to consider the Tim Russert Highway bill today.
The highest priority bills come first, see. I’m sure the repeal of the Military Commissions Act will be brought up some time in the next century.