Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On October 23, ...

... 1861, in the 1st year of America's Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the District of Columbia. The order precluded all claims that the military was holding a person unlawfully -- not only claims from Confederate combatants and suspected Confederate collaborators, but also those from underage boys impressed into military service. This act by Lincoln supplemented other such orders made earlier in the year; indeed, in a message to Congress on July 4 of that year, he defended suspension with this question: "[A]re all the laws but one to go unexecuted and the Government itself go to pieces lest that one be violated?" The import of Lincoln's act constitutes part of the context in which the Supreme Court on December 5, 2007, will hear argument on habeas petitions brought by Lakhdar Boumediene, an Algerian, Fawzi al-Odah (left), a Kuwaiti, and others whom the U.S. military detains as "enemy combatants" at Guantánamo.
... 1956, tens of thousands of Hungarians took to the streets to protest against rule by the Soviet Union. Within a fortnight Soviet troops would crush the popular rising. Thousands died in the political violence, and 20,000 fled the country.

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