Here are the exact words of Gonzalez, responding to Specter's questioning:
"[T]here is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away...I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn't say, "Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas." It doesn't say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by..."A brief quote from Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution is in order:
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.To more clearly delineate the rights of defendants in criminal proceedings, the Sixth Amendement spells out these what the accused can expect in the United States:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.And, just in case they left something out, those paranoid early Americans in Philadelphia added an extra layer of protection against prosecutorial tyranny in the Ninth Amendment, reiterating that there are plenty of common law rights dating back to Magna Carta we enjoy:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.I would like to believe that the Attorney General attended the standard constitutional law classes that Harvard Law School requires to obtain a Juris Doctor, but - giving him the benefit of the doubt - perhaps he was sleeping off a hangover the day his professor covered habeas corpus. If this is the case, then Mr. Gonzalez should hit the books and enlighten himself.
But, unfortunately, I believe that the Attorney General is well-versed in constitutional law, and knows quite well what the Constituion says about habeas corpus. I see this as yet another sign that the Bush Administration simply believes that it has the power to supercede the supreme law of the land whenever said document is inconvenient.
And that, dear friends, is a scary thought.