Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hamdan Ruling Handed Down: Bush Wrong

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Bush did not have authority to set up the war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and found the "military commissions" illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva convention.
The Left is going to gloat over the Supreme Court rebuffing the Administration. The Right is going to cry bloody murder. I'll have to read the decision and try to figure out what's going on here for myself.

The opinion list for the Supreme Court can be found here. The Hamdan case hasn't been published as yet. When it is, I'll link to it here.

Michelle Malkin has a good roundup of reaction. Mark Levin is not going to be happy tonite. Expect a rant from him like you wouldn't believe. Andy McCarthy predicted this outcome and thinks that this now means terrorists have Geneva Convention protections. Methinks some of the justices have reading comprehension problems - namely those that found such an obsene result. The dissenting opinions are going to be an interesting read - there are three separate ones - one each from Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

But here's the curious thing from the reports thus far noted by Allah:
The Court expressly declared that it was not questioning the government’s power to hold Salim Ahmed Hamdan “for the duration of active hostilities” to prevent harm to innocent civilians. But, it said, “in undertaking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal punishment, the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction.”
So if they try him, they have to take him to federal court — but they don’t have to try him? What?
That's certainly a head scratcher. Actually, what it means is that these terrorists can be held indefinitely, and there's no reason to try any of them in court, but if you do, they're going to get protections normally reserved for armed combatants (soldiers) under the Geneva Convention. In other words, there's no reason to bring any of the detainees into US courts since the US can simply hold them indefinitely.

The decision has been posted. Give me some time to digest it. It's 185 pages after all. Therefore, take my earlier comments about selected portions with a grain of salt - got to look at the context, and what else was said.

Been reviewing some of the legal analysis, and the court access part might actually be the least of the concerns. Scalia's dissent is dripping with anger at the majority - not only for misreading the applicable law, but for misreading and mischaracterizing his own opinion in the instant case.

Ed Morrissey notes the following:
Applying Geneva Convention protections to these terrorists undermines the primary reason for these conventions: protection of civilians. They now will pay no penalty for their disregard for the rules of war, thanks to SCOTUS.
Instapundit has more as well. Extending Article 3 protection to terrorists is an obscene reading of the Geneva Convention, which was explicitly designed to provide protections to civilians. The terrorists involved here specifically use civilians as human shields, and dress so as to blend into civilian populations to conduct their terroristic activities. This ruling turns that whole notion on its head.

Expect Congress to step in here to try and make sense of this all and provide a legislative fix.

Andrew at the Counterterrorism Blog also thinks that Congress and the Administration will apply a legislative solution to Hamdan. He also thinks that this decision is a political gift to the Administration. That's certainly putting a positive spin on what is generally a pretty bad story.

Bush makes a statement about the Hamdan decision (via Malkin). And the ACLU is popping the champagne corks.

Polipundit is none too pleased - "I wasted 12 months of my life in Afgahnistan for this."

Expose the Left thinks that this might get the ball rolling on impeachment talks.

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