Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The stupidest thing I've ever heard

Arlen Specter (R-PA) was questioning Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez recently and got to asking him about the restriction of habeas corpus by the Bush administration. Habeas is basically the right of prisoners to challenge their incarceration before a court to prevent unlawful imprisonment. It dates back to the Magna Carta and up until recently was a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. This has been the central debate surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detainees and comes up repeatedly whenever Gonzalez testifies before congress.

This one was a beauty though. Specter is asking Gonzalez how the Bush administration can restrict this right when Gonzalez drops the bomb on Specter. Are you ready for this? You might want to sit down. It makes my brain hurt?

There is some mundane stuff at the beginning, the fireworks start around 6:20.

Gonzalez claims that the Constitution doesn't guarantee the right to habeas corpus, it just ... I can't even type this with a straight face... prevents the government from restricting. Do you see the wrinkle there? It doesn't say you have it, it just says you can't take it away. So if they never had it then Bush et al aren't taking it away. And Bob is your uncle while the Constitution staggers back into its cave after another savage beating. Unreal.


Anonymous said...

Classic! I think where the AG was going was that the Constitution doesn't give an express grant of habeas to any class of people. It doesn't, for instance, say that it applies to citizens, natural born people, etc. So, I don't think that AG is saying that it isn't granted by the Constitution, just that the prohibition on its restriction is the only thing that has been explicitly stated. The video cuts off a little early, but I'd be interested to see if that is where the discussion went.

The AG does conveniently forget a few things, though. In Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court determined that it was the final say in the interpretation of the Constitution. So, if the Gitmo Bay decision is at all an exposition on the constitutional right to hc and it extends that to the detainees, then that is what the Constitution says. Remember, the Congress can't enact laws that violate the Constitution (unless it actually amends the Constitution), so an interpretation that a statutory codification of hc applies to people is a statement that that statute is in line with the Constitution.

By the way, I met Gonzales once at a Hispanic National Bar Association convention. He's, as they say, a "douche" - Victor

John Russell said...

Thanks for the info. I was a upset that the video cut out so early. There was so much crap before that and then it just ends. Maybe there's a longer slice out there somewhere.

Also, he may have not meant to say that it wasn't granted by the Constitution, but he was clearly being pointedly obtuse about the loophole he thinks he found. He says his piece about how the administration can do what its doing and then gives that sh!+-eating grin and waits for Specter to burst an aneurism right there on TV.

John Russell said...

A more complete summary of the story and the frightening nature of the statement.