The question most on my mind is what happens next? Clearly there can be no tribunals and neither Congress nor the Executive Branch can rob the internees of their right to Habeas Corpus but who holds these people accountable if they break the law? Furthermore what happens when prisoners start requesting trials? Will the Bush Administrations block them?
I find Bush’s comments extremely distressing:
“[Bush] stressed his determination not to release suspected terrorists merely because the administration’s tribunals had been rejected. ‘The ruling won’t cause killers to be put out on the streets,’ he said. ‘I’m not going to jeopardize the safety of the American people.'” (NY Times)
What happened with innocent until proven guilty? Clearly the Supreme Court’s decision affirms this maxim but then Bush rebukes the philosophy and uses scare tactics to put a fear of “jeopardizing safety” into the public’s mind. I’m sorry Mr. Bush but Habeas Corpus makes me feel safe not secret trials and breaches of checks and balances among the branches of government.
This is also disturbing:
“Members of Congress who favor military tribunals quickly joined in. Republican Sens. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Jon Kyl of Arizona, citing Breyer’s language, said in a statement: ‘Working together, Congress and the administration can draft a fair, suitable and constitutionally permissible tribunal statute.'” (LA Times)
What Congress and the Executive Branch seem to be saying is “We’ve broken the law so we’ll re-write it.” I understand that with checks and balances theres going to be push and pull over power between the branches of government but this is like a ping pong match. Why can’t we follow international law and standards and things like the Geneva convention (as the court seems to allude to)? The Supreme Courts decision seems to be grounded in precedent of due process law while the Legislative and Executive Branches want to forge new ground.
They seem to be relying on precedent regarding war powers:
“Richard Stamp, a lawyer with the Washington Legal Foundation… [said] ‘For the court to step into the war-making arena, where it has no expertise, is inappropriate,’…” (NY Times)
But how is the court to know whether the accused is actually a terrorist threat — making him a national security risk and therefore an issue of “war politics” — without due process of law? By circumventing the right to a fair trial the Bush Administration is circumventing innocent until proven guilty and establishing their juristiction over matters of national security outright. Clearly if the person is proven a threat to national security the Executive Branch should have juristiction but to claim it outright without Habeas Corpus robs the internees of rights due to them as citizens.
It sets a dangerous precedent to give one branch of government authority to put a scarlet letter “T” on whomever it wants, secretly and without the rights afforded to them by the constitution and international law. Clearly terror threats are not to be taken lightly but hiding practices and breaking the law is not the way to deal with terrorists. Its a step towards fascism.