These statements aren't true...are they?
by Jerry Gilio
October 25, 2006

There are two statements being circulated that I believe are false. If they're true, I'd appreciate it if someone could explain to me how. The two statements are:

  • The Military Commissions Act of 2006 suspends habeas corpus. Period. No other qualifications.
  • If Nancy Pelosi becomes Speak of the House, she'd become president if Bush and Cheney were removed from office.

First of all, I don't believe that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 suspends habeas corpus for U.S. citizens. At least it doesn't do so directly. It contains wording like:

No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.

It defines an alien as:

The term 'alien' means a person who is not a citizen of the United States.

That having been said, there may be a Catch-22 loophole that suspends habeas corpus for everyone. It might be possible for the president to declare a U.S. citizen an alien enemy combatant. As such, this individual could be held indefinitely without charges and denied habeas corpus. Without habeas corpus it might not be possible for the prisoner to prove that he was a U.S. citizen and, therefore, entitled to habeas corpus. Catch-22!

So, although this is a despicable law, it doesn't appear to go as far as to totally suspend habeas corpus. Just watch out for that catch...

As for the other statement, even if Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House, it's unlikely that she would become president by way of succession. As far as I can tell, this would only happen in the unlikely event that Bush and Cheney were removed from office simultaneously. Otherwise, the 25th Amendment would call for a new vice president to be nominated by the president and approved by both Houses of Congress.

Examples of this already exist. When Spiro Agnew resigned as vice president, Richard Nixon nominated Gerald Ford to replace him. Ford was approved by Congress. When Nixon resigned, Ford became president. Ford then nominated Nelson Rockefeller to replace himself as vice president. Rockefeller was approved by Congress. The Speaker of the House was never part of the equation in either case.

I doubt any type of legal proceedings against the administration would remove Bush and Cheney from office simultaneously.

They could remove Cheney and then try to remove Bush before he can nominate and receive approval for a replacement. But as much as I dislike the administration, I don't relish the prospect of a legal footrace between Bush's impeachment and the approval of his new VP nominee by Congress.

And what if Bush is removed first? President Cheney? It gives me the willies just thinking about it.

So if you can tell me what I'm missing, I'd appreciate it. Otherwise, I'm going to assume both these statements are wrong.

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