House hearing on habeas corpus tomorrow

The full House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hear testimony at 9 a.m. EDT Thursday on “Upholding the Principle of Habeas Corpus for Detainees.” Committee member Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, is preparing to ask pointed questions, her staff says.

Two bills to restore habeas corpus rights to non-citizen enemy combatants are pending: House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., introduced one last month (with Tauscher among the 29 original co-sponsors) and a similar Senate bill was introduced in January by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and ranking member Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

An explanation of habeas corpus and a list of tomorrow’s witnesses, after the jump…

Habeas corpus, for the Latin-challenged, essentially is the right to be brought to the court for a determination of whether one is imprisoned lawfully and whether one should be released. It dates back to the 12th Century, preceding its 1215 codification in the Magna Carta‘s section 39; our Constitution‘s Article I, Section 9, says it “shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” Yet under last year’s Military Commissions Act of 2006, non-citizens whom the government deems “unlawful enemy combatants” no longer have this right.

Scheduled to testify tomorrow are:

  • Stephen Oleskey, a partner at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale, and Dorr LLP who has represented six Bosnian-Algerian men detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba;
  • David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union;
  • Patrick Philbin, a former Associate Deputy Attorney General who has argued that the president as commander in chief has the responsibility to exercise any and all force necessary to achieve military ends;
  • U.S. Army Reserves Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, a military lawyer who has spoken out against the “enemy combatant” tribunal process at Guantanamo Bay;
  • Daniel Dell’Orto, Principal Deputy General Counsel at the Defense Department, who has argued that the existing system ensures alien enemy combatants are treated fairly while providing for the national security of the United States; and
  • Greg Katsas, a Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General who successfully argued Boumediene v. Bush, in which the D.C. Circuit held that the Guantanamo detainees have no constitutional right to habeas corpus.
  • Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.