A May 18 letter writer raised interesting issues regarding the National Defense Authorization Act, however, he conflated two distinct legal principles - the 6th Amendment and the writ of habeas corpus.
The 6th Amendment (adopted several years after the Constitution) has a principal purpose of guaranteeing those accused of crimes certain trial rights, so that any conviction is obtained by a fair process. Among the most important are the right to a public jury trial and the assistance of counsel.
On the other hand, recognition of habeas corpus derives from Article One, Section 9, of the Constitution. Its purpose is to provide a legal means for someone to challenge the government's (federal, state or local) authority to hold someone in custody or the conditions of a person's custody. It does not provide a right to a jury trial or the assistance of counsel in seeking "The Great Writ." In fact, most habeas corpus petitions are filed by prisoners pro se, reviewed only by a judge privately.
The Constitution provides that habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in "cases of rebellion or invasion." But some recent administrations have ignored this through secret renditions and some uses of Guantanamo Bay. Sadly, many Americans agree with this. While some proclaim a return to the Constitution, many seem ready to disregard it when it is inconvenient or contrary to perceived interests.