Volume 21, Number 9
March to War
Death to Afghanistan
Dying to Live
Wreck and Ruin
Laurence h. Shoup
Global Food Crisis
Fannie & Freddie
There are no articles.
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The United States Supreme Court decided on June 12, 2008 that Guantánamo Bay detainees Al Odah and Boumediene have the affirmative right to the Great Writ of habeas corpus. The Court decided it was unconstitutional for President Bush to have the power to imprison people he considers enemy combatants indefinitely, without charging them with a crime, and to deny them any hope of meaningfully challenging the legality of their detention before a neutral court of law. Although President Bush originally imprisoned the detainees on his general constitutional authority as commander in chief, he was denying them habeas relief via presidential order and on the authority granted by Congress through the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA). The MCA provides that "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."
Previously in 2004's Rasul v. Bush, the Court ruled that Executive imprisonment without trial "has been considered oppressive and lawless" since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. The Supreme Court in Rasul upheld the right of those detained at Guantánamo Bay to have their petitions for habeas corpus heard by United States courts under the federal habeas statute.
The 2008 Boumediene Court, quoting eminent British legal scholar Sir William Blackstone said, "To bereave a man [sic] of life...without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny...; but confinement of the person by secretly hurrying him to jail...is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government." So, based on the opinions of the aforementioned legal scholars and Supreme Court holdings, the suspension of the Writ declared in the MCA was tyrannical and unconstitutional.
The United Nations' Human Rights Committee, formed to monitor compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) treaty, recognizes that habeas may not be restricted even in times of emergency. The Committee noted that anyone deprived of their liberty shall be entitled to petition a court "in order that the court decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention." Access to courts for judicial determination of rights and the right to an effective remedy are also guaranteed more generally under Article 14(1) of the ICCPR. Yet, the MCA prohibits detainees from petitioning or having any access to a neutral court. Further, far from being without delay, "all [detainees] have been confined at Guantánamo for almost six years, yet not one has ever had meaningful notice of the factual grounds of [their] detention or a fair opportunity to dispute those grounds before a neutral decision-maker." [And] "they have no prospect of getting that opportunity," according to arguments made before the Court in 2007. Based on these provisions, it is clear that the 2006 MCA violates the ICCPR treaty.
The MCA provision eliminating jurisdiction to hear habeas applications also violates the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) treaty. The UDHR requires that defendants receive a public trial by "an independent and impartial tribunal." Since, under the MCA, the Executive brings charges, chooses the judges, and has wide discretion to determine trial procedures, it cannot be said that the tribunals created by the MCA are "independent and impartial." On the contrary, the Executive controls the judge and jury, in effect ruling on his own decision to detain prisoners. Clearly, the MCA violates the UDHR.
Moreover, any meaningful review of the legality of a prisoner's detention is highly unlikely, to say the least, because the military tribunals set up to answer that question fail to meet the minimum requirements for "regularly constituted courts" as defined in the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 (CA3). CA3 specifies that "each Party shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees...recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples." Although CA3 did not define a "regularly constituted court," the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) explained that a court is regularly constituted if it has been established and organized in accordance with the "laws and procedures" already in force in a country.
The Supreme Court determines the "laws and procedures" in the United States and, in 2006's Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, construed the phrase "regularly constituted courts" to require the use of courts-martial. Presidentially-created military commissions might qualify as "regularly constituted courts," but only if such courts complied with Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 36's uniformity requirements and "some practical need" explained any deviation from courts-martial practice. Since the Administration had not justified the need for any such deviation, the Supreme Court ruled that the Hamdan military tribunal violated Article 36's mandates. Because the MCA tribunal is essentially the same tribunal as that created for Hamdan, the MCA tribunals violate the Geneva Conventions' guarantee of "regularly constituted" courts under the Supreme Court's ruling and are thus illegal.
The ICRC also noted that for a court to be "regularly constituted," it "must be able to perform its functions independently of any other branch of the government, especially the Executive." In contradistinction to this requirement, the MCA grants considerable latitude to the Secretary of Defense to convene a tribunal and promulgate detailed rules governing its execution. In fact, MCA tribunals are compromised by Executive command influence. The multiple roles of the Secretary of Defense as appointing authority, adjudicator, and self-evaluator strain any credulous definition of independence or impartiality. Thus, MCA tribunals are not independent and cannot be considered "regularly constituted courts."
Besides requiring a "regularly constituted" court, the United Nations War Crimes Commission, in the 1947 "Justice Trial," identified additional minimum standards for a lawful trial:
- the right of the accused to know the charge against them at a reasonable time before the opening of the trial
- the right of accused to the full aid of counsel of their own choice
- the right of accused to give or introduce evidence
- the right of accused to know the evidence against them
- the right to a hearing adequate for a full investigation of the case
Not one detainee has ever had meaningful notice of the factual grounds of their detention or a fair opportunity to dispute those grounds before a neutral decision-maker. De facto restrictions on the defendant's ability to employ counsel of choice, denial of the right to be present at their own hearing and of the right to hear all evidence against him or her are additional aspects of the MCA tribunals that fall below these minimum standards. Similarly, the practice of admitting into evidence confessions obtained through torture deprives a defendant of a fair trial. For these reasons, as well as those described above, the MCA tribunals cannot be fairly characterized as "regularly constituted" courts, rather they are "kangaroo" courts. So, even if they disregarded the MCA stricture suspending habeas and entertained jurisdiction, any decision regarding habeas relief by the tribunals would be wholly compromised by unlawful command influence and the abridgement of fundamental rights.
Proponents of suspending habeas might argue that post-9/11 circumstances permit Congress or the president to suspend habeas corpus. The Suspension Clause of the Constitution states that, "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." One dictionary defines an "invasion" as "an armed attack on a large scale for conquest or other hostile purposes." "Armed" could encompass an airplane loaded with jet fuel in the context of the 9/11 attack. "Large scale" could refer to the damage wrought or the size of the belligerent force. The damage wrought, approximately 3,000 people dead and 9 buildings destroyed, could arguably be considered large scale. "Conquest" does not seem to have been the terrorists' intent since 19 soldiers could hardly have expected to take over the U.S. government. However, killing people certainly constitutes a "hostile purpose." So the 9/11 attack could be characterized as an "invasion" based on the hostile purpose and arguably "large-scale" damage. Given that there has been an invasion, the Constitution permits the government to suspend the privilege of the Great Writ until the invasion ends or the public safety is restored.
On the other hand, "large scale" doesn't seem like an accurate description of the 9/11 attack. Although about 3,000 people were killed, that number represents approximately .001 percent of the 300,000,000 people living in the U.S. And 9 buildings cannot be characterized as large scale when compared to the number of buildings in the U.S. Further, in absolute terms, although the loss of 3,000 people is horrific, such a loss shouldn't be called "large scale." More than ten times that number die from car accidents every year in the U.S. and accidents are not typically characterized as "large-scale" killers. In addition, 19 terrorists can hardly be viewed as a "large scale" belligerent force. Nineteen people do not even constitute a platoon, much less a brigade or army. So, whether looking at the number of belligerents or the amount of damage wrought, the 9/11 attack was not "large scale," so it did not constitute an invasion.
Since the attack on 9/11 was not an invasion, Congress and the President have no legitimate authority under the Constitution to suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus. Even if the 9/11 attack was an invasion, that event happened six years ago. There is no longer an invasion. So, suspending habeas is contrary to the temporary nature of any legal habeas suspension. When one considers that the suspension also violates the UDHR, the ICCPR, the Geneva Conventions, and shows no sign of being abated after six years, the resolution to the conflict in the Boumediene and Al Odah case should have been self evident to all nine justices. Instead, in a close five to four decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the suspension of the Great Writ of habeas corpus by the Legislative branch, through the MCA, is unconstitutional.
Clif Bennette is a law student. He has published technical as well as legal articles in small publications and in the Law Review Journal.
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AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.