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Posted by on Nov 15, 2005 in At TMV | 0 comments

Graham Amendment: The Controversy — And Concern — Grows

The controversy continues to simmer and fester over the Graham Amendment. Note The Hill:

Several retired military leaders are urging Congress to reject Senate-passed legislation that would nullify a 2004 Supreme Court ruling that gives detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the right to challenge their imprisonment.

The upper chamber last Thursday passed Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) detainee amendment to the defense authorization bill, 49-42.

Since the Graham amendment passed, a flurry of letters from retired military officers has arrived in Senate offices.

The officers, together with human-rights activists, are extensively lobbying the Senate to vote for an amendment that Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) introduced last night.

Bingaman’s staff yesterday worked with Graham and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to iron out language that would be accepted by Graham and would mollify the human-rights activists, as well as other critics, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Graham’s amendment is “very draconian and unnecessary,� said retired Rear Adm. John Hutson, a former Navy judge advocate general and now the president and dean of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H.

Hutson sent a letter to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) a day before Graham introduced the amendment, expressing opposition to it.

The letter now has garnered strong support from at least nine other retired military leaders and was being been sent to all 100 senators.

The question: is the GOP Congress using the cherished concept of habeas corpus as a political tool?

The Denver Post has an editorial that reads, in part:

The U.S. Senate’s vote to bar so-called enemy combatants like those at Guantanamo Bay from challenging their detention in the federal courts flies in the face of American values and ought to be reversed.

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s measure, passed 49-42, was a “sleeper” amendment tacked onto a defense appropriations bill. The amendment effectively would make it impossible to enforce Sen. John McCain’s ban on “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” of captives that passed the Senate, 90-9, last month. We were puzzled to see that McCain, a former POW, voted in favor of barring detainee lawsuits.

If the Graham amendment wins final passage (possibly as early as this week), it will void a June 2004 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing detainees to file habeas corpus petitions to challenge their detentions.

What is fascinating as you read this and other controversies over law and what Congress has tried to do on several occasions now is that they’re being sparked by people who say they are conservatives and to be the descendants of people such as Barry Goldwater.

There is a significant split emerging — and becoming more accentuated each day — in the GOP between the old, traditional (Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan) GOPers and the Bushies who represent a new political form. They give lip-service to the idea of smaller government but want government to be involved in matters in which some traditional liberties are curtailed. The old “givens” no longer apply. If you look at it in the context of history, it truly is emerging as a form of radical conservatism.

Who will win out? A year ago you could say it would be the “new” Republicans. But if Bush’s numbers continue to tank (see post above) perhaps many some others in GOP will conclude it’s time to challenge the power of this different form of Republicanism. “Status quo” may not be a dirty word when it comes to upholding traditional American values.

Some may love it, some may hate it. But no matter what your view, you’ll have to agree: it ain’t your grandpappy’s (or your Dad’s) Republican Party anymore.


Obsidian Wings has a post here with links to its previous detailed posts on the controversy over stripping the courts. Read the original and all the links.

–Gary Farber is a required reading here and this urgent post of his here.

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