Thursday, June 29, 2006
Charles (The Cousin) took a bold assignment in his capacity as a Navy JAG to defend one of the bad-guys at Gitmo. He is a very good defense attorney and made the decision to take the case to the Supreme Court. I can still remember the night the cousins stayed up into the wee hours of the morning listening to Charles make his case. He was amazingly persuasive. I still want to see these terrorists dealt with justly, swiftly (sorry about the pun, Charles), and decisively. But there's something rather wonderful about being in a country where someone from a country that wants to see yours destroyed is defended by a military officer all the way to the Supreme Court - and wins. Maybe the terrorists should think twice before they hate America first. I think this is a great country with amazing citizens, and The Cousin sure proved it. He answered the call of his country to provide real justice (like it or not) and he did it. Only in America.
Of course, we should have known something was up when we had the annual "Gingerbread House Making Christmas Party" last December and Charles decided to build a Gingerbread Supreme Court. He did it, though a few pieces of the front edifice kept falling off and crashing down on the gingerbread steps. Finally, he had to basically glue it together with mounds and mounds of icing to keep a piece from falling. After he completed the project - which really did look like the Supreme Court - he took it home as part of his Christmas season decorations. The next day a piece of marble suddenly fell off the real Supreme Court building in Washington, just missing the tourists on the front steps. Only in America.
I still think Gitmo is a good idea, but I am also really proud of Charles.
Only in America.
Supreme Court rejects Guantanamo military tribunals
By James Vicini
In a sharp rebuke of President George W. Bush's tactics in the war on terrorism, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down as unlawful the military tribunal system set up to try Guantanamo prisoners.
By a 5-3 vote, the nation's highest court declared that the tribunals, which Bush created right after the September 11 attacks, violated the Geneva Conventions and U.S. military rules.
"We conclude that the military commission convened to try (Salim Ahmed) Hamdan lacks power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate" the international agreement that covers treatment of prisoners of war, as well as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court majority.
The decision was a stinging blow for the administration in a case brought by Hamdan, who was Osama bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan. Hamdan, one of about 450 foreign terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was captured in November 2001.
At the White House, Bush said he had not fully reviewed the ruling and would consult with the U.S. Congress to attain appropriate authority for military tribunals. "We take the findings seriously," he said.
A Pentagon spokesman declined immediate to comment but reiterated the need for a U.S. facility to hold dangerous captives.
The ruling, handed down on the last day of the court's 2005-06 term, followed the deaths of three Guantanamo prisoners this month and increased calls for Bush to close the prison camp. U.S. treatment of inmates at Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan has drawn international criticism.
One of Hamdan's lawyers, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, praised the high court action. "All we wanted was a fair trial," he said outside the Supreme Court. "Yes, it is a rebuke for the process. ... It means we can't be scared out of who we are."
Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union said, "The Supreme Court has made clear that the executive branch does not have a blank check in the war on terror and may not run roughshod over the nation's legal system."
Stevens, at 86 the high court's longest serving justice and a leading liberal, said the military commissions were not expressly authorized by any act of the U.S. Congress. But in reading part of the decision from the bench, he said Bush was free to go to lawmakers to ask for the necessary authority.
Stevens also wrote the Supreme Court decision two years ago that handed the Bush administration another major setback in ruling the Guantanamo prisoners can sue in U.S. courts.
RULES ARE ILLEGAL
Stevens said in his 73-page opinion, "The rules specified for Hamdan's trial are illegal." He said the system has to incorporate even "the barest of those trial protections that have been recognized by customary international law."
He said the tribunals failed to provide one of the most fundamental protection under U.S. military rules, the right for a defendant to be present at a proceeding.
The case produced a total of six opinions totaling 177 pages.
Stevens was joined by the other liberal justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, and moderate-conservative Anthony Kennedy.
The conservatives -- Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, who was appointed by Bush -- dissented.
The ninth member of the court, Chief Justice John Roberts, who also was appointed by Bush, removed himself because he previously was on the U.S. appeals court panel that ruled for the Bush administration in Hamdan's case.
The dissenters agreed with the administration's argument that the case must be dismissed because a recent law stripped the high court of its jurisdiction over Hamdan's appeal.
Thomas also said the court needed to respect Bush's power as commander in chief while Alito said he disagreed with the majority that Hamdan's tribunal was illegal.