Saturday, October 29, 2005


McCain attaches "detainees' rights" amendment to military spending bill

The McCain Amendment -- SA 1977 -- says the following..."No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment."

I'm posting this language so you can evaluate it for yourself. Some will no doubt see it as a "terrorists' bill of rights" being enacted as US law. Others will see it as necessary human rights protection.

I have two questions: does this mean anyone detained by any US agency for any reason for any period of time anywhere in the world automatically, as a matter of US law, becomes entitled to access to the federal courts, which will necessarily then entitle them to an appointed lawyer and full Constitutional Due Process?

Probably so. Certainly, many federal courts would so construe it.

Second question, what is "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment or punishment? Is the standard subjective or objective? "Good cop bad cop"? Solitary confinement? Confinement in a coed facility? Confinement without a prayer rug or a Koran? Confinement without your headscarf? Without your prayer beads or magic crystals? Having your Koran touched by a non-muslim not wearing gloves? Britain has seen bans of piggy banks and Winnie the Pooh's pal piglet because muslims find them offensive. Would detention within earshot of pigs, or the smell of a kitchen where pork is being prepared be "degrading"? How about being served meals from a kitchen where pork is cooked? How about not being fed your preferred diet? How about not allowing animal sacrifices to someone whose religion does that sort of thing?

Think some of these are ridiculous? They're all actual complaints, either by muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay, or from lawsuits filed by prison inmates in the US.

The language of this provision is so broad that it essentially has the effect of guaranteeing US Constitutional Due Process rights to anyone stopped at a US military checkpoint anywhere in the world. In any house search in any combat zone anywhere in the world, US military personnel would be subject to these requirements. Ridiculous? This would become a federal statute applicable to any person anywhere "in the custody or under the physical control" of US soldiers. Persons at a checkpoint or in a house being searched would be "under physical control" of the soldiers.

The following links are furnished by the Center for Individual Freedom, with which I have no connection, for the purpose of contacting President Bush and the members of the Senate Conference Committee to object to this amendment. Use the links at your own discretion, I make no representation regarding them. You might also consider contacting your own Senators and House representative directly.

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