US Senate votes no to expanding detainee rights

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Detainees, or individuals in United States custody considered to be suspects connected to terrorism, will no longer be able to protest their being held in custody or their treatment while in custody, otherwise known as the "writ of Habeas Corpus," at least not in U.S. federal courtrooms.

Democrats, who sponsored the bill, needed at least 60 votes in order for the bill to allow detainees to fight but received only 56, which included six Republicans. 43 Republicans voted against the bill.

"[The bill's failure to pass] calls into question the United States' historic role of defender of human rights in the world. It accomplishes what opponents could never accomplish on the battlefield, whittling away our own liberties. This is America?" said Democratic Senator for Vermont, Patrick J. Leahy.

In 2006, the U.S. Military Commissions Act limited the rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. run detention facility in Cuba for the most dangerous individuals in the world, accused of acts of terrorism. The act also included smaller U.S. prisons around the globe.

Opponents of the bill claim that to allow detainees those rights, the U.S. would potentially be engulfed in an endless line of lawsuits.

"To start that process would be an absolute disaster for this country. I cannot think of a more ill-advised effort to undermine a war that I think will be a long-standing effort," said Republican Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey O. Graham.

Some Senators are planning on debating and voting on the bill again, but it is not known when or if that will happen.