News Release

The Amnesty-for-Torturers Act?


Hentoff writes in his column in today’s Washington Times: “Little attention is being paid to Section 6 of this Warner-McCain-Graham bill that denies the right to a habeas-corpus hearing not only to Guantanamo Bay prisoners, but to any alien detainee outside the United States designated by the president as an ‘enemy combatant.’ …

“Nine retired federal judges have tried to awaken Congress to this constitutional crisis. Among them are such often-honored jurists as Shirley Hufstedler, Nathaniel Jones, Patricia Wald, H. Lee Sarokin and William Sessions (who was head of the CIA and the FBI). They write, particularly with regard to Mr. McCain’s concerns about torture, that without habeas petitions, how will the judiciary ensure that ‘Executive detentions are not grounded on torture’?”

Hajjar, a professor in the Law and Society Program at the University of California-Santa Barbara, wrote the articles “Torture and the Lawless New Paradigm” and “An Army of Lawyers.”
More Information
More Information

Director of the First Amendment Foundation, Gage can address issues related to the government using secret “evidence.” She said today: “Under the proposed scheme, military commissions give the unclassified version of the ‘evidence’ to the person being charged. But there’s a problem with that which we encountered when the government was using secret evidence in deportation proceedings in the mid-’90s. The core information shown to the accused was ‘Mr. X says you’re a terrorist’ — which is impossible to rebut.”
More Information

Professor Pyle is co-author of the book The President, Congress, and the Constitution. He said today: “The proposed legislation is an amnesty bill for torturers.” He wrote in a recent oped titled “The War Crimes Scam” that: “The Supreme Court’s decision last June in the Hamdan case threw the military, CIA, and administration into a panic. The Court didn’t just declare the military tribunals illegal. It held that the Geneva Conventions protect all detainees in the ‘war on terrorism,’ which meant that anyone who abused prisoners — or authorized their abuse — was vulnerable to prosecution as a war criminal. …

“The torture and abuse were not random acts by guards and interrogators. They were part of a deliberate administration policy that began in November 2001 when President George W. Bush authorized military tribunals that were specifically designed to admit evidence based on torture. …

“The new military tribunals won’t be permitted to admit evidence obtained by torture. However, they will be allowed to admit hearsay — secondhand accounts that seem reliable, but which will not expose the interrogators to embarrassing questions about their brutal methods. Then, to further hide the abuse of prisoners from judges and the public, these three senators will strip every court in the United States of authority to hear legal challenges by prisoners to their detention or mistreatment.

“In short, the fix is in. Administration officials will be immune from future prosecution for authorizing, encouraging, justifying, and concealing torture and abuse. Interrogators can’t be prosecuted for carrying out these war crimes, and innocent prisoners can’t expose the government’s crimes in court, now or in the future.” Pyle is a professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College specializing in Constitutional law and civil liberties.
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167