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October 10th, 2006
04:11 pm


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Note from Senator Stabenow - her perspective on the Military Commissions Act
Thank you . . .

. . for contacting me about the Military Commissions Act of 2006. I understand your deeply held beliefs regarding this bill and your distrust of the Bush Administration which I share.

As you may know, the Supreme Court's Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision found the President's military tribunals unconstitutional. This decision created a void with no judicial process in place for the detainees who our country has been holding indefinitely.

I understand the distrust of the Bush Administration which has frankly shown a flagrant disregard for the law. However, having no law in place would have given this administration continued justification to act without any accountability.

This proposal puts in place protections that do not exist today for detainees and is a better system than the one proposed by the President. I strongly opposed the President's attempts to undermine the Geneva Convention. This bill does not amend the Geneva Convention in any way. This proposal puts in place specific protections against torture, providing needed clarification on what constitutes war crimes and criminalizing specific interrogation techniques.

Could this bill be improved? Absolutely. I supported every Democratic amendment to tighten definitions and strengthen this legislation. Unfortunately, we lost them in close votes. I will continue to work with my colleagues to modify the law, and am hopeful that with changes in the new Congress, we will be successful in making these needed improvements.

There is no question that Congress will need to continue its oversight role of this Administration. While we may respectfully disagree about this bill, my vote was based on the sincere belief that ignoring the Hamdan decision and passing no legislation was not an option. If we had not passed this bill, our military would not have been able to move forward with trials against suspected terrorists now in U.S. custody.

Thanks for sharing your views with me on this legislation. As always, I welcome your input.


Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:October 10th, 2006 08:48 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, that bill appears to give Bush the right to designate people -- including citizens -- as supporting enemy combatants at will, throw them into the military detention system without appeal (or habeus corpus), and throw away the key. I'm really furious at Stabenow.
Date:October 10th, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC)
She eems to be under the impression that this bill does not undermine the Geneva Conventions, but it specifically states that the Geneva Conventions may not be cited as a reason for complaint in any court. The bill does state that certain things are absolutely prohibited, but there are convenient disclaimers which allow torture despite the appearrance of prohibiting it. I'm sure you know this, but why doesn't debbie?

I am, however, impressed with what appears to be a personally written letter. That gives me a modicum of faith in her. Not that it matters, I can't bring myself to vote for her opponent anyway. Thanks for being one of the people who let her know how you feel about this bill, though.
Date:October 10th, 2006 09:42 pm (UTC)
Well, I rather suspect that she's received thousands of similar letters, so this is probably still a stock response.

I also don't buy her stated rationale for voting for the bill. I believe that her real reason is that Bouchard would have aired ads saying that she voted against bringing terrorists to trial, so she was doing the politically safe thing rather than voting her beliefs.

Such ads would have been half-truths, of course, but I almost never see a political ad from any party that *isn't* deceptive or misleading anymore.
Date:November 7th, 2006 11:24 am (UTC)

form letter

I got the EXACT same letter when I questioned her vote. Her vote is pure political pandering. Wish I had a real choice today.
Date:October 22nd, 2006 10:54 am (UTC)

What Stabenow said is a lie, or she hasn't read the bill.

What Stabenow wrote in this letter is either a lie, or she hasn't read the bill.

The Military Commissions Act gives George W. Bush the unlimited power to engage in de facto amendments to the Geneva Conventions. The text of the law includes the following provision:

"The President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions"

Everyone, including Senator Debbie Stabenow, knows what this means. President Bush attempts to amend laws all the time by means of such interpretation, through signing statements. President Bush has shown a willingness to interpret a law outlawing torture in such a way that it actually allows him to torture people whenever he wants to. President Bush has in the past interpreted the legislation that makes the Geneva Conventions legally binding in American law in order to claim that the President has the power to apply Geneva Conventions however he wants, or not at all. The Military Commissions Act gives that power to the President when it did not exist before.

That's one way that the Military Commisions Act amends the Geneva Conventions - by giving the President the power to amend it however he sees fit. Another way that the Military Commissions Act amends the Geneva Conventions is seen in another selection from the law, below:

"No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights."

This part of the Military Commissions Act is certainly a dramatic amendment to the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions applies to all people on a battlefield, without distinction between alien and citizen or lawful and unlawful. Well, at least that's how the Geneva Conventions used to work. Now, thanks to Senator Debbie Stabenow's vote in favor of the Military Commissions Act, that is no longer true - not for the United States of America.

Oh, but it gets worse. If you think that you're safe because you're a citizen, well, you're plain wrong. Read the following additional clause from the Military Commissions Act:

"In General- No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories."

Let me shorten that clause for you: No one has any right to claim their rights under the Geneva Conventions in any proceeding involving the United States - not overseas, and not even in an American court.

How could Senator Stabenow claim that that does not constitute an amendment of the Geneva Conventions?
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