WASHINGTON The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, was stymied in the U.S. Senate on Sept. 19, when the measure failed to garner the sixty requisite votes to send the bill to a final vote.
The proposed legislation would rescind a provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which legally eliminated the right of habeas corpus for all persons determined to be illegal enemy combatants.
Responding to the 56-43 vote in favor of a final vote, Senator Leahy claimed that, The vote today showed that a majority of the Senate supports our efforts to correct the historic mistake made in last years Military Commissions Act, but there is still more work to be done to overcome the Republican filibuster.
Opponents of the new act assert that granting habeas rights to enemy combatants would endanger national security and clog the American legal system with endless appeals by detainees.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) asked, Are we going toconduct warfare now and in the futurein a way that allows those we capture to sue us?
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a principal author of the provision against habeas rights in the Military Commissions Act, claimed that the restoration of such rights would amount to, an absolute disaster for this country.
In countering these arguments Senator Leahy asserted that revoking habeas corpus rights is not a threat to U.S. national security, but is instead a threat to U.S. citizens.
He said, The truth is that casting aside the time-honored protection of habeas corpus makes us more vulnerable as a nation because it leads us away from our core American values.It also allows our enemies to accomplish something they could never achieve on a battlefieldwhittling away the liberties that make us who we are.
Furthermore, Senator Leahy emphasizes that the elimination of habeas rights for enemy combatants held by the United States puts American personnel in Iraq, both civilian and military, at greater risk. By denying basic rights to alien detainees, we encourage other nations to do the same to American civiliansand they will.