Friday, November 03, 2006
Note: the italicized, boldface paragraph is our own, and not Mr. Levin's. Paragraphing may not be original, due to typical formatting problems with copy and pasting of printable email subject matter. We also apologize for any confusion with the S bill numbers regarding the Military Commissions Act of 2006. We will be consulting with The Congressional Record for facts and details.
Here is the letter in its entirety:
"Thank you for contacting me regarding the Military Commission Act of 2006 (P.L.109-366). I appreciate hearing your views on this important subject.
As you may know, the Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld declared that military commissions, established by the President, violated both U.S. and international law and therefore lacked the â€œpower to proceed.â€ The Court ruled that Congress has the responsibility to establish standards for the military commissions if they are to be used.On September 14, 2006, the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which I am the Ranking Member, favorably reported S.3901 to the full Senate by a bipartisan vote of 15-9.
The bill met two critical tests. First, the bill was consistent with our American system of justice and would stand up to judicial review. Second, the United States would be able to live with the procedures we established if the tables were turned and our own troops were subject to similar procedures.
Although I had some reservations about the habeas corpus provisions of the bill, I felt they were issues that could be resolved by the full Senate. S.3901 would have provided the administration with the tools it needed to detain enemy combatants, conduct interrogations, and prosecute detainees for any war crimes. Unfortunately, S. 3901 went off the tracks after it was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Senate Majority Leader refused to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor. Instead, he took up a different bill that closely resembled the Administrationâ€™s proposals. The Bush Administration has been relentless in its efforts to legitimize the abuse of detainees, to protect those who authorize the abuses, and to distort military commission procedures to ensure criminal convictions. This bill, the Military Commissions Act (P.L. 109-366), failed to meet either of the two critical tests addressed by the bipartisan Armed Services Committee bill.
The Military Commissions Act proposed by the Administration and the Senate Majority Leader prohibits the use of statements obtained through cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment only if those statements were obtained after December 30, 2005, the date the Detainee Treatment Act, which prohibits cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, was enacted.
The act contains no prohibition on statements obtained through methods prior to that date. This provision, in other words, implicitly authorizes military commissions to consider evidence that was obtained through cruel and inhuman treatment of defendants and other witnesses at an earlier time. By failing to adhere to the bedrock principle that statements obtained through cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees should be precluded from evidence, regardless of when they were obtained, this act sets an unacceptable standard. It is a standard under which our troops could be subjected to abuse and mistreatment of all kinds.
Further, if statements obtained through cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees are allowed into evidence, any resulting convictions are unlikely to withstand scrutiny upon judicial review in our own courts. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Court pointed out that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention prohibits the passing of sentences â€œwithout previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people.â€ I believe P.L.109-366 fails to meet this standard.
I also opposed the provisions eliminating habeus corpus rights for all suspected aliens, including permanent residents, detained inside or outside the United States. By depriving detainees of the opportunity to demonstrate that they were detained in error, this act not only deprives individuals of a fundamental right deeply embedded in American law, it also helps ensure the Administration will not be held to account for the illegal or abusive treatment of detainees. On the Senate floor, I offered the original bill, approved by a bipartisan majority of the Senate Armed Services Committee as a substitute amendment for the version on the Senate floor. Unfortunately my amendment was defeated 43-54.
Therefore, I opposed the military commission bill, which was signed into law by the President on October 17, 2006.We have always sought to hold ourselves to the highest standards when it comes to human rights and the rule of law. While others may engage in cruel and inhuman acts, we should not.
Thank you again for contacting me.
Sincerely, Carl Levin"
Monday, October 23, 2006
"...To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal,6 and make rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;..."
We at the RE-Constitution project find this Section of great importance, for today, it has been reported that active-duty military personnel are now calling for an end to the war in Iraq.
We feel that Congress must be compelled by this demand from their own military for withdrawal, and it must be done with mercy. Lately, we have not heard the use of the word mercy in the concern for our troops over there. As Congress has the Power to declare War, so should they have the Power to end war. Not only that, Congressional hearings must need be held on the Hill before Recess on the same topic.
We urge you to contact your Congressional representative now, today. Contact them by the internet, e-mail, telephone, the US Mail, by telegram, etc. Contact them today and let them know how you feel about pulling out of Iraq. Our troops are asking for this merciful act, they can wait and suffer no longer - so we can wait no longer.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
"Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day".
It has been reported that our Congress has met only 218 times ("days") this year. We at the RE-Constitution Project suggest that a new Amendment be made which states: The Congress shall assemble every weekday of every week of the year, except for the week between December 25th and January 1st. Being Federal employees Congress is exempt from meeting on Federal holidays.
Amendment 22 states that:
"Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term".
Because of the lack of oversight witnessed (i.e., the Foley and Hastert scandal, etc.) and the excessive absences of this session of Congress, we at the Project propose the following new Amendment:
"No person shall be elected to the office of United States Congress more than twice, and no person who has held the same office, or acted in the same capacity, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected to a Congressionsal seat shall be elected to the office(s) of Congress more than once".
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
"The Act explicitly suspends the writ of habeas corpus for detainees who are not U.S. citizens:
e)(1) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination".
And just who is an enemy combatant? Please read:
"Â§ 948a. Definitions ÂÂIn this chapter: ÂÂ(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT.Â(A) The term Âunlawful enemy combatantÂ meansÂ ÂÂ(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces); or ÂÂ(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense".
This raises some fundamental Constitutional legal questions in the minds of the editors of The RE-Constitution. Such as, how did the following Bill of Rights Amendments fail to prevent or to be considered in the passage of this Act...
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized".
Not being professional jurists, it is the lay opinion of the editors that the enactment of S.3930 is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation".
Not being professional jurists, it is the lay opinion of the editors that the enactment of S.3930 directly contradicts the Fifth Amendment by deprivation of habeas corpus and, therefore, of due process of law.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense".
Not being professional jurists, it is the lay opinion - we believe, of the American people in general - that the Sixth Amendment has been violated by the suspension of habeas corpus in the enactment of S.3930.
The Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people". (Sometimes referred to as the most enigmatic of the Amendments).
And further still,
The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people". (Is S.3930 a violation of the States Rights)?
And even further still,
The Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution reads:
"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".
Our main question concerning the Fourteenth Amendment, has due process of law been denied with the enactment of S.3930?
[Sources: Thompson-Gale Legal Encyclopedia and Columbia University Press Encyclopedia and the Wikipedia.org]
Also, Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution states;
"The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it".
Not being authorities on this subject, the editors want to express their lay opinion that the conditions of Section 9 have not been met by the suspension of Habeas Corpus in S.3930.
A full senatorial investigationprecededave preceeded the the passing of Bill S.3930 prior to the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The editors propose that this bill and its enactment be reviewed by the Supreme Court of The United States and/or that Congress may have a special session to investigate the need or repeal or amendment of this new law.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The original Declaration of Independence, facsimile.
In the original Declaration of Independence, the preamble
states that; "We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all Men are created
equal that they are endowed by their
Creator, with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
The following proposal is a new interpretation of that Preamble; "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all persons are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator or by evolution or by nature, with certain unalienable Rights including those Rights in the Bill of Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. And that of these Rights, the Right of Habeas Corpus shall be sacrosanct and unalterable for the life and duration of this Declaration of Independence."