Suspend habeas corpus and enact martial law?
By Chris Powell
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Americans seem ready to forfeit their most basic civil liberty — actually, all their civil liberties — without a whimper.
By a vote of 93-7 the Senate this month approved a military appropriations bill empowering the government to designate any U.S. citizen within the country as a terrorist and to have the military hold him indefinitely without trial and without the right to habeas corpus, the right to be brought before a court for a judgment on the legality of one’s imprisonment.
In effect the legislation is a declaration of martial law throughout the country.
The bill still has to be reconciled by a conference committee with a different version passed by the House of Representatives. But even Connecticut U.S. Rep. Joseph D. Courtney, a liberal Democrat and a member of the committee, plans to support the martial law provision and expects it to be enacted. Courtney, who used to be a lawyer, cites as consolation the money contained in the bill for Connecticut military contractors, tens of millions of dollars for jet fighter engines manufactured by the Pratt & Whitney division of United Technologies Corp. in East Hartford and for nuclear submarines made by the Electric Boat division of General Dynamics in Groton.
At least Connecticut’s junior senator, Richard Blumenthal, was one of 38 senators who voted to try to remove the martial law provision from the bill. Connecticut’s senior senator, Joseph I. Lieberman, who also used to be a lawyer but now is the Senate’s foremost advocate of perpetual imperial war, voted for martial law.