Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Civil Liberties, Habeas Corpus, and Abraham Lincoln

It's been a while since I posted this, and with the President's recent veto of the torture, bill I figured it needed a repost.
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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 half year 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.


8 comments:

Mike said...

Very intresting facts about Lincoln.Not so sure about comparisson.

Justing said...

That is an interesting comparison; however, Lincoln did not start a war and did not do it for oil profit, did not give out construction and rebuilding contracts to his friends, did not give defense contracts to his own company, did not give oil contract to companies he has stock options in. He was also not blamed for economic mess and did not cheat to get elected. He kept all the states together and thus reunited them. He was also articulate and did not go to college because his daddy could pull couple of strings.

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