Bill of Rights Defense Committee

In September 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, undermining 800 years of human rights by abolishing habeas corpus, a right that empowers prisoners to question why they are being held and to demand evidence showing a reason to detain them.

Main message:

Please phone both your Senators and your Representative. Ask your members of Congress to restore habeas corpus and other fundamental rights abolished by the Military Commissions Act by co-sponsoring legislation, holding hearings, and using their public office to speak out in support of the re-establishment of basic human rights!

How to make a call:

Capitol switchboard: Dial 202-224-3121 and ask the operator to connect you (24 hours a day) or

Find your senators’ and representative’s direct phone numbers at http:/

Sample talking points:

The Military Commissions Act (MCA) …

* Abolishes the right of habeas corpus, an 800-year old guarantee that any individual imprisoned by the government may demand a show of evidence to convince a neutral judge there is reason for the detention. The MCA stripped habeas corpus from every non-U.S. citizen, including U.S. legal residents, as if a just society can provide different rights to different groups of people and call that justice.

* Allows testimony gained by torture to be introduced into Military Tribunals and used to convict defendants, who can then be sentenced to death or to life in prison. When torture and coercion are permitted as tools for gathering intelligence, the gathered information becomes useless, because people who are tortured will say anything to stop the torture.

* Allows hearsay evidence and secret evidence, which prevents the detainee the right not only to confront his or her accuser but to know the evidence against him or her, which the judges may use to convict the accused.

* Gives the President exclusive powers over life and death, bypassing due process. Individuals may be named enemy combatants just on the say-so of the President, with no evidence in a court of law. The President’s determination of what is and is not torture would override historically reliable guides such as the Geneva Conventions.
Creates a new war crime: conspiracy. Using a vague charge like conspiracy against an individual enables an Administration that has consistently inflated its effectiveness against terrorism to further exaggerate how many terrorists it has captured by claiming that low-level “conspirators” are deadly enemies. In this “war on terror,” a person should not be charged with and possibly executed for conspiracy.

* Lets U.S. war criminals off the hook. The MCA immunized government officials who authorized or ordered illegal acts of torture and abuse between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2005. These true war crimes must not be absolved. The perpetrators must be tried for their crimes, not given a “get out of jail free” card.

Living our American values demands that we…

* Restore the right of habeas corpus for all who are imprisoned, both within and outside the U.S.

* Eliminate torture and coercion from all U.S. prisons, whether in or outside the U.S.

* Disallow testimony induced by torture or coercion.

* Grant due process to every person, even if the President has named them “unlawful enemy combatants.”

* Abolish the President’s prerogative to name any individual an “enemy combatant” without providing evidence and a process for the individual to truly dispute the evidence.

* Re-establish the Geneva Conventions as the law of war for the United States.

* Fix the Military Commissions Act, which will defend the Constitution and protect our American values.

Download a flyer: BORDC