Just Another Guy with Opinions

AG Gonzales on Habeas Corpus

Posted by shadmia on January 23, 2007


The Attorney General of the United States Alberto Gonzales was on Capitol Hill testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee when questioned by Sen. Arlen Specter about Habeas Corpus and how it applies to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Gonzales made the surprising and disturbing statement:

“There is no express grant of Habeas in the Constitution there is a prohibition against taking it away”

to which Sen. Arlen Specter replied:

“You may be treading on your interdiction of violating common sense”

What Alberto Gonzales was trying to say was that not everyone (and perhaps no-one) has the right to a fair trial, which is what Habeas Corpus is all about, and happens to be one of the guaranteed rights under the Constitution of the United States. This sentiment expressed by the AG caused Sen. Arlen Specter to make the remark that he was talking nonsense. The text of the exchange can be found here

The video of the exchange can be viewed in two parts:


Part 1 Gonzales and Specter


Part 2 Gonzales, Specter and Leahy

This exchange goes back to when Congress adopted the Military Commissions Act of 2006 the implications of which are documented here: Terrorists defeat Habeas Corpus and signed by President Bush

Sen. Patrick Leahy summed up his feelings on the matter by saying:

“The Great Writ of Habeas Corpus was done horrible damage by the Congress and Law the President signed last year……..I will do everything possible to restore all the rights under the writ of Habeas Corpus that were there before we passed the legislation we did legislation I voted against”


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