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Bill would expand detainee rights

After the Memorial Day recess, the Senate Armed Services Committee plans to release a bill that will shore up the rights of detainees held in Guantanamo. Which, currently, aren't so hot. From the AP:

Under the current system, President Bush can detain any individual suspected of engaging in or supporting terrorism. Only those selected for trial are provided lawyers and guaranteed access to evidence used against them.

The others are appointed a military representative and regularly undergo reviews by a panel of military officers to determine whether they still pose a threat to the U.S. The panel is allowed to use hearsay and classified information as evidence — none of which is required to be provided to the detainee.

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) inserted the provision into the 2008 $649 billion defense funding bill. It bans coerced testimony and hearsay, requires legal counsel for each detainee, and further constrains the definition of an enemy combatant. Sounds like a good step towards restoring the rule of law, and reigning in the executive branch, at least on this issue. We'll have to see if it gets as far as the president. And if it does, will it be veto proof?

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