The Instigator
Cato5
Pro (for)
Losing
27 Points
The Contender
foxmulder
Con (against)
Winning
36 Points

Should habeas corpus be a fundamental right?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/24/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,098 times Debate No: 2174
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (21)

 

Cato5

Pro

Habeas Corpus in an individual's ability to question the reason for his or her detainment. This insures that the defendant isn't arbitrarily imprisoned by the government and that they can exhaust all legal means possible to fight the accusation. Unfortunately, habeas has been suspended numerous times throughout history, most notably during the Civil War, by President Lincoln. Currently, President Bush has suspended habeas corpus in the United States under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. This means that anyone that the government wants to arrest can do so, without telling them why. The president has tried to use the rationale that it is necessary for the government to have this much power in order to protect the United States from terrorism. He has used the idea of sacrificing liberty for security, which, according to one of our founders, Benjamin Franklin, is ludicrous. "Those who sacrifice liberty for security will get none, and deserve neither." I believe that habeas should be a right that can never be taken away and that by doing so, the administration is opening the door to more executive overstepping in the future.
foxmulder

Con

Extending habeas corpus rights to unlawful enemy combatants would impede military operations, undermine the laws of war, and unnecessarily burden an already fair legal process.

The current legal framework allows U.S. armed forces to do their job without adversely affecting military effectiveness or going against standards of international law. Separate laws regarding the conduct of war were established for a reason: The environment of armed conflict differs significantly from everyday civil society. Soldiers must be able to accomplish the mission and obey rules of conduct while under stressful, chaotic, and dangerous conditions.

Unlawful enemy combatants--individuals who do not adhere to the traditional laws or customs of war--are not entitled to Prisoner of War status or the full protections of the Geneva Conventions, let alone unfettered access to U.S. courts.

Soldiers have a number of equally compelling responsibilities in war: accomplishing the mission, safeguarding innocents, and protecting their fellow soldiers. These tasks are difficult enough. Soldiers should not be required to provide to unlawful combatants, in the same manner and to the same extent as would be expected of a civil court, the full array of civil protections afforded to U.S. citizens by the Constitution and created by judges since the 1960s. For example, it is highly unrealistic to expect soldiers during active operations to collect evidence and insure the integrity of the chain of custody for that evidence. American soldiers would effectively face a Hobson's choice: on one hand, win the war, bring fellow soldiers home, and safeguard innocents; or, on the other hand, meet novel legal standards that might result in prematurely releasing war criminals who will go back to the battlefield.

Imposing U.S. civil procedures over the conduct of armed conflict will damage national security and make combat more dangerous for soldiers and civilians alike. People who are trying to destroy the great freedoms that we have in this country should not be able to benefit from them.
Debate Round No. 1
Cato5

Pro

First of all, we are not in a state of war, since Congress has not officialy declared it so. In the Constituion, the right to writ of habeas cannot be removed unless in times of rebellion or invasion, and we are in neither. This is stated in Article 1, section 9 and this specifically describes the powers alloted to Congerss, meaning that the power to suspend the writ lies soley with the Legislature.

Under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the Writ of Habeas Corpus can be removed to any one that the Government deems an ununiformed combatent. They can even suspend the writ to American citizens like you and me. We only know the "enemy combatants" are in fact enemy combatants because the executive tells us so. Their justification, intent, and suspiscion for their belief are protected under national security, thus we have no way of ensuring whether they are in fact combatants. Those detained, lacking the writ, have no way of proving their innocence nor exhausting the legal means to protest their detainment.

Furthermore, your notions that enemy POWs would returned after their writ of habeas is granted is false. Habeas Corpus is not applied the same way to enemy combatants during war and combat. POWs, once captured, can be detained indefinitely until the end of the war/conflict, regardless of habeas. The Geneva Convention outlines this. The question is whether the Writ of Habeas Corpus should be applied domestically.

So the real issue is how this suspension affects the rest of our due process rights. Take our Bill of Rights for example.

The First Amendment is gone because with detainment without trial you lose your right to speech and religion. And you don't no what to petition for.

The Second Amendment is gone because you obviously can't bear arms in prison.

Third Amendment is ok, no forced quartering of soldiers.

Foruth Amendment is gone; lots and lots of searches and seizures.

Fifth Amendment; due process rights? Please.

Sixth, Seventh Amendments; no trials remember?

Eight Amendment; bail is irrelevant and who are you gonna complain to about cruel and unusual punishment?

Ninth Amemndment; rights retained by the people? if you can recite them during your waterboarding...

Tenth Amendment; rights delegated to the federal government, well they seem to just end up there anyway.

So, without habeas, at least our Bill of Rights...actually the Bill of Right (since its just 1/10th left) is still intact.

Consider all this... then tell me why Habeas Corpus should ever be removed.
foxmulder

Con

The answers to your points are fairly brief.

"Any alien unlawful enemy combatant is subject to trial by military commission under chapter 47A of the Military Commissions Act of 2006" (Section 1, Subchapter I)

The important words in this section are "alien" and "unlawful"

The Act defines alien as "a person who is not a citizen of the United States". This means that as long as you are a legal citizen of the United States, none of this applies.

The term unlawful enemy combatant means –
A.a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al-Qaida, or associated forces)

So, as long as you are not trying to overthrow the US government, you should be fine.

To sum it up, under the Military Commissions Act the only people who will lose their rights are unlawful enemy combatants (aka terrorists) who never really had any rights in the first place.
Debate Round No. 2
Cato5

Pro

I'm glad and impressed that you brought up the Military Commissions Act. For our fellow viewers here, I will sum up some history about this piece of legislation. First, it was passed in response to the challenge of habeas appeals by petitioners who state that they are unjustly detained in Guantanamo Bay. Before this, Congress had passed the Detainees Treatment Act in 2005 which stated that no one in Guantanamo had just grounds to file for writ. But the detainees stated that since their petitions were already under way, the DTA did not apply to them. So Congress went back to the drawing board and came up with the Military Commissions Act which actually eliminated the Supreme Courts jurisdiction over Guantanamo, as opposed to limiting the rights of the detainees. So, in essence, they're saying, "You can complain all you want, but the Courts can't hear you."

One little point that you failed to identify with the MCA is that it gives the President, in this case President Bush, the ability to indefinitely detain ANYONE - US or foreign nationals, from within the US and from abroad, if he BELIEVES, not proves, they provided material support to anti-US hostilities.

And...it pardons President Bush and his administration from PROSECUTION for TORTURING detainees that were captured before the end of 2005 by US military and CIA.

That's pretty blatantly obvious to me that the administration understands that they overstepped their bounds and are trying to retroactively save their own asses.

You also talked about a trial by military commission. But the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that even in cases of military officials, that they have to be tried in a civilian court before a military court.

Now since your whole rebuttal was based on the MCA, I would hate to present the notion that the MCA might be unconstitutional. While it is not ruled yet, it is currently being considered by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush. The Court is deliberating whether the right to the writ of habeas corpus depends on the citizenship or the subjectivity of the accused.

Take your argument for "citizenship" for example. You state that if you're a citizen, none of this applies to you as long as you don't plot overthrow of the government. Well, plotting is an abstract idea so in that regards, you're actually safe under the First Amendment. But even if you're a citizen, the MCA gives the President the ability to detain you if he just so believes that you are an enemy to the country. Think about it this way, if you were a citizen and you were a terrorist, that doesn't mean the government CAN'T detain you, right? Your citizenship is NO PROTECTION if the government, in this case, the President and his administration, BELIEVE that you are a danger to America.

Furthermore, ever heard of something called the FISA court? It stands for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the court was created to deal with issues that might endanger national security without sacrificing due process. For example, if government officials needed warrants to search or wiretap "suspected" terrorists, they complain that they can't go to a regular court to obtain these warrants because their sources would be made public and that might threaten national security. Granted, good point. But the FISA court is a secret court made up of separate judges that never actually meet in person. They are allowed to grant warrants for specific cases like these without the public knowing, thus ensuring both national security and due process. I had a nice conversation with a judge Royce Lamberth, a conservative judge from Texas who was appointed by President Regan. He was chief of the FISA court during 9/11. EVEN HE BELIEVES that there should be NO REASON why President Bush didn't use the FISA courts to obtain warrants when surveilling "suspected" terrorist who just happened to be US citizens. Just because these citizens were middle-eastern or had relatives who lived in the middle east made them targets of illegal wiretaps.

In conclusion, there have been many, many, many cases in which the government has overstepped it bounds in dealing with the War on Terror. Congress passing this Military Commissions Act is just another one of them. So your argument on behalf of that is moot.
foxmulder

Con

Ok, I'll just summarize my points and then we can leave it to the voters.

While we (United States citizens)should be able to enjoy the freedoms and rights that our nation provides us, alien terrorists should not be able to. Be granting them the rights that they are trying to destroy, you are not only putting the lives of millions of Americans at stake but you are also hampering the military's ability to do their jobs. A top al Qaeda leader, Zayn Abidin Muhammed Hussein Abu Zubaydah, gave up information about future terrorists attacks (saving many lives) while being detained without habeas corpus. So while some terrorists may lose freedoms they never should have had, millions of inocent Americans will be able to keep theirs. Who do you thinks deserves them?
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by writofmandamus 8 years ago
writofmandamus
Well look at how Boumediene v. Bush turned out.

Seems the Supreme Court agrees with you Bob er...
Cato5
Posted by Korezaan 9 years ago
Korezaan
Fundamental rights cannot be taken by away by the government.

The PRO compromises their position by saying that in times of rebellion or invasion, it is justified.

I don't agree with the CON case at all.

But the PRO fails to prove the resolution true.
Therefore I vote CON.
Posted by ahundredhighways 9 years ago
ahundredhighways
i'm split

any american citizen arrested by the people they pay through taxes should have the right to question their detainment

however illegal aliens and enemy combatants should be held until the government sees fit for their release
Posted by Cato5 9 years ago
Cato5
foxmulder doesn't seem to understand what habeas corpus means. it has nothing to do with how the military operates or Americans direct safety at the cost of terrorism. by granting them habeas, we don't impede military operations. by believing that giving up liberty for security, you will never be secure. Habeas is just telling people why they are detained. foxmulder doesn't even know what he's talking about.
Posted by hjones02 9 years ago
hjones02
Even though I strongly disagree with foxmulder, I gotta vote for him. Really great closing
Posted by Acureforthemondays 9 years ago
Acureforthemondays
all the power to ya cato5.
good luck on your debate
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