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Our Most Basic Rights Are In Serious Trouble

based on a report by David Rose. November 13, 2005

Human rights campaigners are calling it the 'November surprise' - a last-minute amendment smuggled into a Pentagon finance bill in the US Senate last Thursday.

Its effects are likely to be devastating: the permanent removal of almost all legal rights from 'war on terror' detainees at Guantanamo Bay and every other similar US facility on foreign or American soil.

If the amendment passes the House of Representatives unmodified, one of its immediate effects is that the lawyers who act for Guantanamo prisoners will again be denied access, as they were for more than two years after Camp X-Ray opened in 2002.

The amendment was tabled by Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and passed by 49 votes to 42. It reverses the Supreme Court's decision in June last year which affirmed the right of detainees to bring habeas corpus petitions in American federal courts.

Michael Ratner, the director of New York's Centre for Constitutional Rights, said the amendment "will create a thousand points of darkness across the globe where the United States will be free to hold people indefinitely without a hearing, beyond the reach of US law and the checks and balances in our constitution."

Human rights groups and leading figures from the US military are urging the Senate to reconsider the amendment next week. Among those who have written open letters are John Hutson, the former Judge Advocate General of the US Navy, and the National Institute for Military Justice, a think-tank for military lawyers.

You have been reading excerpts from "Guantanamo inmates to lose all rights" by David Rose. You can read the entire piece here: tinyurl.com/bnxz5. Thanks to observer.guardian.co.uk. Real journalism is still alive in Britain.

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