Friday, June 30, 2006

The SCOTUS and Guantanamo Prisoners

Much ado about the Supreme Court decision regarding the proposed war-crimes trials for the Guantanamo detainees. Strangely enough, many of these prisoners were picked up in Afghanistan, during armed conflict and are certainly prisoners of the war, while not being a proper P.O.W.

The Supreme Court has again done what was previously thought unthinkable: they've granted rights and privileges on terrorists; this is an absurd ruling.
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Recall in 2004 the Supreme Court ruled that unlawful enemy combatants (see Geneva Convention Article 4) have access to our federal courts (not military, mind you). Suddenly, a person easily considered an enemy of state is granted rights of a US Citizen.

At the risk of using the hackneyed slippery slope, that is exactly what has happened. For today, as the Supreme Court ruled yesterday, these same enemy combatants are now completely exempt from military tribunals and instead are entitled to civilian courts.

The solution, we're told, is for the Administration to request from Congress legislation that addresses the handling of such prisoners. I am not a Constitutional scholar (nor do I play one on TV), but how is it that President -- whose definition in the Constitution is Commander-in-Chief -- has to seek permission to deal with lawfully captured prisoners (illegal ones, at that) from the Congress, which has no defined role in the military process, outside of declaring war (which they have already done)?

I defy someone to state where matters of military action involving prisoners are covered in the Constitution in regards to Legislative or Judicial oversight. If you say that the treaty - the Geneva Conventions - binds us to those obligations spelled out within - then I'll agree and point directly to where the Article 4 defines legal combatants.

Simply put: there is no oversight of either the Judicial or Legislative branches in regards to matters of a declared war. Congress can defund it, but they are not entitled to the day-to-day issues involving it; that's a job for the Executive Branch.

Side Note: Many pundits deride the use of the title Commander-in-Chief as being some kind of code-word for the President that allegedly deflects all sorts of criticism. Nonsense: when dealing with matters of domestic, fiduciary policy, that title is nondescript and correctly out of place. When dealing with matters of military or national security, the title fits -- much to the chagrin of those critics who can't stand that Mr. Bush was re-elected.

The Hamdan ruling has but one bit of good news: the prisoners will still remain under lock and key; but who knows when the next such case may call into question that safe-guard?

This ruling is an example of how this great nation will not fall from some stereotypical, invading Visigoths coming over the wall, but rather from within.





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