The Military Commissions Act (MCA) signed by President Bush in 2006 was part of the War against Terror program. The Act was viewed as instrumental by its supporters as it was aimed at setting the procedures of dealing with unlawful enemy combatants (Elsea, 2014). The Act was a response by the Bush administration with regards to the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld ruling which restricted the application of military commissions on the detainee prior to detainment status determination.
Hamdan was one of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards who was arrested and handed over to the U.S authorities in Afghanistan. Arrangements were made to prosecute Hamdan through a military commission for conspiracy to commit terrorism. Hamdan through his counsel filed for a writ of habeas corpus to challenge his detention. The Supreme Court determined that the accused had a right to challenge his detention (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 2006).
The Act gives the government powers to establish a military commission to conduct hearings pertaining to illegal alien enemy combatants. The Act further restricts the application of a writ of habeas corpus for the detainees. This basically prevents the defendant to make applications in the federal courts for purposes of challenging their detention and provides basis for indefinite detention pending action. The Act also prevents civil law suits being brought up against the government and its officials with regards to the military commission process and handling of the detainees (Elsea, 2014).
Criticism against the Act point to unclear statements made in the document especially with regards to unlawful enemy combatants because, while in certain sections the term alien is used in others it is not. This has been seen to include American citizens which means their right to challenge their detention is restricted under the Act. The law is warranted especially with regards to illegal enemy combatants. However, adjustments are necessary to ensure speedy determination of their detention status and guilt regarding their activities.
Elsea, K. J. (2014). The military commission Act of 2009 (MCA 2009): Overview and legal issues. Retrieved from https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R41163.pdf
Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 05-184 cir (2006)