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Habeus Corpus and the War on Terror

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In this paper I will be explaining the history of Habeas Corpus and its evolution through the years. I will explore the origin of habeas corpus, what role it plays in our country, and the action that is currently being taken regarding it. I will also be delving into the way that the Bush administration dealt with the writ of habeas corpus. Since the U.S. Constitution was written, the writ of Habeas corpus has been considered one of the most basic and fundamental guarantees of civil liberty that we as American citizens have enjoyed. Even so, many questions have been raised regarding the proper use of this writ. Many of these questions have come to light over the past decade. In the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States government hundreds of people as part of the war on terror. Most of these people face imprisonment indefinitely without having been charged with a crime or even given the status of prisoner of war. The purpose of Habeas corpus is to protect American citizens against such things as wrongful/unlawful imprisonment and torture. It is a civil liberty that our Constitution guarantees cannot be taken from us.
The precise origin of Habeas Corpus is unknown but it is believed to have originated from Anglo-Saxon common law. The principal use of Habeas Corpus comes from the middle ages, when similar laws were used. The sum of these laws have aided in molding our current use of habeas corpus. Habeas Corpus has been used to compel jailors to bring a person in custody before a court of law. Habeas Corpus was virtually unknown to various European systems of law. European civil law systems have a tendency to favor collective authority as opposed to Anglo-Saxon common law which tends to favor the rights of individuals.
By the year 1230, the sole function of the writ of Habeas Corpus “was to bring people into court rather than out of imprisonment” and was a well-known feature of English common law. It is known as “the Great Writ” and was formally brought into English law through the Habeas Corpus Act of 1641. This Act was created in response to King Charles actions during what is now known as the Darnell’s Case. In this case, five English noblemen were thrown into the castle dungeon because they did not support England’s wars against Spain and France. When the men requested that the King provided them with an explanation of their imprisonment, King Charles refused to give them an explanation and the court upheld his decision by stating that the law did not require the King to justify their imprisonment. The public outrage of this decision prompted Parliament to take action the next year. Parliament then went on to expand habeas rights years later with the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, requiring “charges be brought within a specific time period for anyone detained for criminal acts.”…...

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