US Military Commissions Act of 2006 is a Fascist Law
That the People of the World Must Condemn and Oppose
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
21 October 2006
The International League of People's Struggle vigorously condemns and opposes the
US Military Commissions Act of 2006 as a fascist law that flouts and violates the universally
accepted principles and conventions on human rights and international humanitarian law.
The Act seeks to impose state terrorism and fascism on the people of the world through
the brute military power of US imperialism and its collaborators. The people of the world
must condemn and oppose this fascist law until it is repealed or nullified as a brazen
comprehensive assault on human rights and fundamental freedoms.
On 17 October 2006, George W. Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
He called it one of the most important pieces of legislation in the war on terror. In
a public statement, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has described the new
law as one of the worst measures ever enacted against civil liberties in American history.
"The president can now -- with the approval of Congress -- indefinitely hold people
without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial
based on hearsay evidence, authorize trials that can sentence people to death
based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses and slam shut the courthouse
door for habeas petitions," ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said.
In sum, the new Act does three things:
1. It denies non-citizens of the US the right to habeas corpus (the right of
detainees to challenge their detention);
2. It gives the US President the power to detain indefinitely anyone-US or
foreign nationals, from within the US, and from abroad-whom he believes to
have given material support to hostilities against the US, and even use secret
and coerced evidence (i.e. through use of torture) to try detainees who will
be held in secret US military prisons;
3. It gives US officials immunity from prosecution for torturing detainees that
were captured before the end of 2005 by the US military and CIA.
On the matter of habeas corpus, the Act: strips US courts of jurisdiction to hear
habeas corpus appeals challenging the lawfulness or conditions of detention of
anyone held in US custody as an "enemy combatant;" denies any person the
right of invoking the Geneva Conventions or their protocols in any action in any
US court; allows civilians captured far from any battlefield to be tried by military
commission rather than civilian courts, violating international standards and case
law; restricts the right of detainees to be represented by counsel of their choosing.
The Act gives broad powers to the US president to detain indefinitely and allow
the use of torture to extract information. Detainees can be held indefinitely without
charges or if trials are held there are no guarantees that these are done within a
reasonable time. It permits the executive to convene military commissions to try
"alien unlawful enemy combatants" in trials that would give foreign nationals a lower
standard of justice than US citizens accused of the same crimes in violation of the
principle of equal application of the law.
The Act allows the use of evidence extracted under cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment, or as a result of "outrages upon personal dignity, particularly
humiliating or degrading treatment", as defined under international law. It allows
the use of classified evidence without the defendant being able to effectively challenge
the "sources, methods or activities" by which the government acquired the evidence.
It gives the military commissions the power to hand down death sentences in
contravention of international standards.
The Act in effect would now consider as legal the following torture methods that
have been routinely practiced by US forces in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons
which have generated universal outrage: (1) Long Time Standing: Prisoners are
forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the
floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in
yielding confession. (2) The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell
kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with
cold water that can induce hypothermia.
The Act gives US officials immunity from prosecution. It narrows the scope of the
War Crimes Act by not expressly criminalizing acts that constitute "outrages upon
personal dignity, particularly humiliating and degrading treatment" banned under
Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions. It prohibits US courts from
using "foreign or international law" in forming their decisions in relation to the
War Crimes Act. The US President is given the authority to "interpret the meaning
and application of the Geneva Conventions."
With this law the US Congress has put a stamp of approval to the systematic
violation of international law the US has been guilty of in the past years in the
conduct of its spurious "war on terror." Human rights violations have included:
secret detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, including humiliating treatment,
denial and restriction of habeas corpus, indefinite detention without charge or trial,
prolonged incommunicado detention and arbitrary detention.
Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights has described the Act as giving
to the US president the authority of an authoritarian despot and the power to detain
any person anywhere in the world, citizen or non-citizen, whether living in the United
States or elsewhere. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional
Rights and other human rights organizations in the US are determined to challenge the
constitutionality of the Act.
The International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS) is outraged by the enactment of
the US Military Commissions Act of 2006 as it may become a very dangerous turning
point in the rise of fascism in the US and the rest of the world, unless the people
condemn and oppose it resolutely and militantly until it is struck down. This Act
makes the US the No, 1 rogue state in the world by deliberately and systematically
violating the universally accepted principles and standards of human rights,
The International League of Peoples' Struggle calls on its participating organizations
in the US and in other countries to wage a relentless campaign against this fascist
law. All freedom-loving people of the world must stand up to defend human rights
and fundamental freedoms and fight this latest brutal assault on democracy and
human dignity. ###