>LAW: Terror Detainee Bill

>President Bush signed into law the terror detainee bill that he wanted. Does it truly promote justice and peace? Here are a few excerpts from an MSNBC.com article:

Bush terror bill signing a major victory (17 Oct 2006)

“It is a rare occasion when a president can sign a bill that he knows will save American lives,” Bush said. “I have that privilege this morning.”

“Bush signed the bill in the White House East Room, at a table with a sign positioned on the front that said “Protecting America.” He said he signed it in memory of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We will answer brutal murder with patient justice,” Bush said. “Those who kill the innocent will be held to account.”

“The law protects detainees from blatant abuses during questioning _ such as rape, torture and “cruel and inhuman” treatment _ but does not require that any of them be granted legal counsel. Also, it specifically bars detainees from filing habeas corpus petitions challenging their detentions in federal courts. Bush said the process is “fair, lawful and necessary.”

“Many Democrats opposed the legislation because they said it eliminated rights of defendants considered fundamental to American values, such as a person’s ability to go to court to protest their detention and the use of coerced testimony as evidence. Bush acknowledged that the law came amid dispute.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the new law is “one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history.”

“The president can now, with the approval of Congress, indefinitely hold people without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial based on hearsay evidence, authorize trials that can sentence people to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and slam shut the courthouse door for habeas petitions,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero.

“The legislation also says the president can “interpret the meaning and application” of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts. White House press secretary Tony Snow said Bush would probably eventually issue an executive order that would describe his interpretation, but those documents are not usually made public and Snow did not reveal when it might be issued.”

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