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Is anyone wondering how our congressional delegation voted on the Detainee Treatment Act of 2006? Café San Diego is supposed to be about San Diego, but I don’t think the local press covers the votes of our representatives enough, so I’m doing it now.

The legislation passed the Senate yesterday, giving unprecedented powers to the President of the United States to throw people in a dungeon forever without question. It was a big day for democracy and incredibly ironic considering President Bush’s “freedom agenda” through the rest of the world. Sens. Arlen Spector (R-PA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) tried but failed to remove a provision of the bill that eliminates the right of habeas corpus for people detained as enemy combatants. Habeas corpus is that quaint right n traceable back to the Magna Carta – that we can challenge the legality of our imprisonment in court. It’s an essential check on arbitrary executive power. Our fearless leaders in Congress have now stripped that right away from foreign residents of the United States or anyone detained by the United States overseas so the president can arbitrarily jail people in the pursuit of making us “safer but not yet safe.” Oh, and Congress has also given the president broad authority to do what he will to these detainees so long as they aren’t raped or mutilated as reported by my dear friend Anne Plummer Flaherty here in this Associated Press report.

Here’s how our representatives voted on the bill, which passed the House on Wednesday.

Yea:
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-52)
Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-50)
Rep. Darrel Issa (R-49)

Nay:
Rep. Susan Davis (D-53)
Rep. Bob Filner (D-51)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D)

The New York Times issued an exceptional editorial on the subject yesterday, arguing that if ever there was a time for a filibuster it’s now. Or, actually, it was yesterday since the bill is a done deal. Democrats, for all their big speeches about how this is the end of our democracy, failed to defend it this week.

Take heart though, the legislation is very likely to be struck down as unconstitutional in time. Just not before the Nov. 7 election. If you haven’t done so yet, please call your representatives in Congress to thank them for their tireless service in the great system of checks and balances.

CATHERINE MACRAE HOCKMUTH

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