Senate Plan to Overturn Graham Amendment, Allows Enemy Combatants Access to U.S. Courts
Slate features a Washington Post article noting that senators have come up with a compromise that will restore to enemy combatants the right to appeal their sentences to U.S. courts. After voting 49-42 for an amendment by Senator Lindsay Graham that would’ve denied them access to U.S. courts, a few of those on the winning side must’ve come to their senses and realized what a constitutional monster they’d created. Because Sen. Carl Levin has crafted a compromise that would essentially eviscerate Graham’s provision:
Levin’s language would grant any detainee sentenced to death or at least 10 years of prison by a military trial an automatic appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court would review guilt or innocence and could also determine the constitutionality of the entire process case by case, Graham said. Those sentenced to less than 10 years could petition the appeals court for review.
What I don’t like about the Levin proposal is that it in effect endorses the Bush Administration concept of military tribunals as the means by which such detainees will be tried for their alleged crimes. I don’t believe that the Congress has ever weighed in on this subject and I wish they’d left it for the Supreme Court to rule on this matter as they’d signaled they were inclined to do in recent cases.
But one good thing about the Levin proposal is that it is tied to John McCain’s bill banning use of torture by the U.S. against enemy combatants so that the two may not be unbound when considered by a House-Senate conference committee. Dick “Mr. Torture” Cheney has been lobbying Republican House leaders to get rid of the McCain provision. Even conservative Republicans in the Senate are signaling that this a “no deal” item which they won’t drop.
Keep the heat on these senators by visiting the Center for Constitutional Rights website to send letters to the “swing votes” on this proposal.