Sunday, May 27, 2007

Abraham Lincoln, George Bush and Civil Liberties

George W. BushA controversial Republican president during a time of war, utilizing controversial new powers. Many, even in his own political party, were outraged when he suspended the right of habeas corpus and imprisoned many without trial. Military tribunals were authorized to try suspects quickly; money was spent without congressional authorization. Who was this president? None other than the great Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln:
• Suspended the writ of habeas corpus. [1]
• Spent money without congressional authorization. [1]
• Imprisoned 18,000 suspected Confederate sympathizers without trial. [1]
• Conducted at least 4,271 trials by military commission. [2]

George W. Bush:
• Defined captured enemies as "enemy combatants". [3]
• Denied "enemy combatants" habeas corpus. [3]
• Tried "enemy combatants" through military tribunals. [3]

No similarities there, right? Of course there could be more added to both presidents, but this list gets the idea across. So what can we learn from this?
• Abraham Lincoln was one of the most popular presidents of all time, if not the most popular.
• President Bush isn't popular.

Abraham LincolnDoes this mean that history will look back at Bush as one of the greats? Maybe, maybe not. The next year and a half will decide that. But looking at the last 6 or so years and comparing it to the President Lincoln's, one could say that it appears Bush will have a nice legacy. But take another look.

In Article I, Section 9, the Constitution states, "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."

During Lincoln's time, there was a rebellion going on. One could argue whether "public safety may require it." But if you want to argue about that, adventure into the comments section.


4 comments:

Brewskie said...

The clause say, in part:

"unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."

It's obvious it is talking only about actual invasion or rebellion. It's at that time it would be for the public safety.

So he can't Constitutional abolish Habeas Corpus without either of those two present and certainly not just because os some "public safety" need.

Simmons said...

You are probably right. But it is arguable.

nothesecret said...

I agree it is arguable. Christopher Ruddy makes a good point on it though. Check it out.

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