Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bush loses at Supreme Court. Guantanamo trials are illegal.

BREAKING NEWS! (I'll post a more measured opinion on this in the morning!)

The day we have all been waiting for is here!

Having done all in his power to build his illegal Gulag out with of the reach of the law, Bush finally faced justice today... and lost.

The Supreme Court have ruled that George Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The stunning rebuke against the Rumsfeld/Bush/Cheney/Gonzales mindset stated that the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and the Geneva conventions.

In a 5-to-3 ruling, the justices also rejected an effort by Congress to strip the court of jurisdiction over habeas corpus appeals by detainees at the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

And the court found that the plaintiff in the case, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, could not be tried on the conspiracy charge lodged against him because international military law requires that prosecutions focus on specific acts, not broad conspiracy charges.

Bush has rather bizarrely stated that he would comply with the ruling and would work with Congress "to have a military tribunal to hold people to account'' that would meet the Court's objections. Guess he finds it hard to realise when the writing is on the wall.

The majority ruling was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who was joined in parts of it by Justices

Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel J. Alito Jr. dissented. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. did not take part in the case, since he had ruled in favor of the government as an appeals court justice last year.

Justice Thomas took the unusual step of reading his dissent from the bench, the first time he has done so in his 15 years on the court. He said that the ruling would "sorely hamper the president's ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy."

In the majority opinion, Justice Stevens declared flatly that "the military commission at issue lacks the power to proceed because its structure and procedure violate" both the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which governs the American military's legal system, and the Geneva Convention.
So it's official. You need actual evidence rather than broad conspiracy charges. Which means basically Bush and his lot have bugger all on these people.

Commander Swift, who represented Mr. Hamdan called today's ruling "a return to our fundamental values. That return marks a high-water point," he said. "It shows that we can't be scared out of who were are, and that's a victory, folks."

Indeed, it is. And it never tasted sweeter.

Click title for full article.


A reminder of the kind of attitude towards Guantanamo that today's judgement has ruled against. Sorry, Michelle, Donald et al - rules apply, even in "wartime".

Be sure to check out the silly little hatemongers opinion in the morning. She'll be outraged. I can't wait.


Cyberotter said...

You're welcome Kel. You write very well and I am sure my readers will appriciate your work as I do. On a side note, how are you adding tags to your stories? Is that built into blogger?

Musclemouth said...

wow! malkin makes o'reilly look like kermit the frog singin' about peace and love. she's a coulter clone.

tommy said...

This is a horrifying ruling. Thomas was angry enough that he issued his dissent from the bench for the first time ever.

The idea that we somehow 'signed a treaty' with al-Qaeda and that they are therefore guaranteed Geneva rights is the most absurd thing I've ever heard of. This is going to tie our hands in fighting this war significantly. Too many people, including the idiots on our Supreme Court, are still in the mindset that the war on terror is strictly a legal issue.

We've already released plenty of people from Guantanamo only to see the same individuals back on the battlefiels in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Make no mistake. People will die because of this ruling.

tommy said...

One good piece of news:

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.”

Well, if they don't have to try them until the cessation of hostilities, then I say hold them until al-Qaeda is nothing but a memory. It will be loooooooong time....

tommy said...

One last thing. Since not wearing a standard uniform on the battlefield is a violation of the Geneva Convention and such violations can be, and in the past have been, punished by summary executions, we may ultimately move in that direction.

There may be a silver lining in this after all....

tommy said...

Sorry. One more.

It turns out that Bush can go ahead with military tribunals if he gets approval from Congress.

I can live with that.

I can't wait to see the Democrats squirm if Bush asks for such authority. I can see loony Democrats who don't want any tribunals arguing that the likes of Osama and Zawahiri should be given a civil trial like any other American citizen.

That will fly really well with the American people.

This ruling could be very good indeed.

Musclemouth said...

Um...Tommy...a trial is to find out whether a particular individual had anything to do with a crime. Would you grant one man the authority to decide whether you were a terrorist? You fool.

tommy said...


Stop the insults. The only fools are people who think this is strictly a law enforecement issue to be dealt with like organized crime. It ain't.

This isn't standard law enforcement work. Much of the evidence that goes against these individuals is likely the result of intelligence work. You are talking about compromising sensitive methods and secret sources by holding open court trials against these individuals or even just setting them free after a closed trial.

This would be an intelligence disaster. When you are fighting people involved in terrorism overseas in potentially hostile regions of the globe, you cannot conduct the same sort law enforcement investigation you might conduct to bust somebody like John Gotti. It would be too expensive, too dangerous, and it wouldn't work.

But I guess the realities of stopping terrorism have yet to dawn on people like you. I haven't heard any good ideas out of the pro-terrorist rights crowd on how to conduct anti-terrorism work. They just don't consider the problem to be very serious.

Musclemouth said...

How is it different from a John Gotti trial? With the mafia, you have to have moles, and spies, and secret agents, and informants, and firepower, and so on and so forth, just as with intelligence gathering. Yet they held open trials for Gotti. What is the difference?

Ingrid said...

Kel, I do think that this way, the Bush Administration can save face (in a way) and shut down Gitmo while still claiming that they were right and have no regrets etc etc. I do not believe they would have or would close it just by 'pressure' alone. They'd dig themselves in and not want to look weak by 'giving in'. So..who knows if this was a blessing for them because they can still make all kinds of statements without it effecting their image with their voters.

tommy said...

You have to ask, musclemouth. Don't you? Take a little time and think about what you are saying. I'm not going to fully answer that one for a while but I'll give you a few pointers. Try and figure out what the differences between international intelligence work and legal intranational police work are.

I'd recommend reading a few books on the stories of undercover police agents and then read a few books by former CIA or KGB agents. The differences will become very obvious to anybody.

For starters, they failed to convict Gotti several occasions before they finally nailed him in his final RICO, which meant he was free between trials to murder people and the rest. That is something we have to live with since Gotti was an American citizen but I don't want foreign terrorists free to kill between court appearances. Also, the cost of securing a conviction for Gotti, under the rigorous requirements of evidence and legal procedure, was around $75 million. I don't want huge tabs like that being expended for every POS foreign terrorist we nab.

just as with intelligence gathering.

There is no comparison that can seriously be drawn between undercover police work and covert intelligence work overseas. There are vast differences in the secrecy of the means and methods used

Everyone who reads a few stories of undercover agents in the FBI knows roughly how they operate. Even if they are difficult to spot in practice, the methodology they employ is well known. There is little danger in revealing how an undercover agent performed his work in open court. But the methodology employed by the CIA is often highly secretive and the revelation of the means employed to gather intelligence may do more damage to national security than failing to secure the conviction of a potential terrorist. The choice between upholding national security and stopping a particular terrorist isn't a choice that any sane country would want to make.

International intelligence gathering is a totally different ballpark than domestic law enforcement and only the naive would believe otherwise.

Likewise, there is no serious comparison between intelligence gathered overseas and information collected by an undercover agent. The intelligence agent is strictly concered with the veracity and value of the information; he or she doesn't have to worry about its evidentiary value in a court of law like an undercover police officer does. The last thing that intelligence agents need is to have a lawyer looking over theirs shoulders to determine the usefulness of their information in a United States court of law. That would be nuts. However, that is apparently what the loonies on the left have in mind when it comes to fighting the war on terror.

you have to have moles, and spies, and secret agents, and informants

...and we have a the Witness Protection Program for such people in domestic law enforcement. We are not going to establish a WPP for terrorists who turn on their own. Are we going to let foreign terrorists come to the United States, the only country where we would have jurisdiction to operate such a program on any scale, and let them live secretly among our citizens? Don't be ridiculous. We already have incidents in the existing WPP (in fact, John Gotti's former underboss Sam Gravano, comes to mind) where we have these people reoffending once they are back on the streets. Having foreign terrorists "reoffend" within the United States would be disastrous.

As for Ingrid's comments,

They may not shut down Gitmo now. They have handed Bush a good reason to make it a permanent facility in fact. They may wind up having to keep inmates there as POWs now until al-Qaeda, the latest "signatory" to the Geneva Conventions according to our nutcases on the Supreme Court, and the United States formally sign a peace treaty (LoL) or until al-Qaeda unconditionally surrenders. Until that time, the inmates can be held indefinitely until there is a cessation of hostilities. Sounds likes a plan to me.

Of course, they may still move forward with tribunals if Congress will approve it.

One good thing: they could try some of these people in civil courts if appropriate. Even if they fail to convict, they can still hold them at Gitmo as POWs regardless.

One unrelated note: Kuwaiti women voted in national elections for the first time today. Kuwait isn't a highly democratic country to begin with but it isn't the most repressive Gulf state either and this does represent a small step in the right direction. Yaaaay.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Tommy sure plays a mean pinball.

Tony Snow was complaining about "procedural" stuff today. Someone pointed out the "procedural" stuff is called the rule of law.

Kel said...


I add the tags using an add-on that comes with Mozilla Firefox. It doesn't work with IE I notice.


You are wrong as you so often are on this subject. The cost of bringing a person to trial is irrelevant as is the difficulty in doing so. We are dealing here with principles. I know you find such things tiresome but the Supreme Court doesn't.

The Supreme Court has found that Bush is operating outside of international law and you and your ilk will simply have to live with that. Everything that you, and others who share your mindset, have been saying for the past five years (no uniforms mean you are a non combatent etc) have been found to be false.


You are entirely correct. Terrorists are criminals. Nothing more, nothing less. When the UK tried IRA members they did so in a court of law. That is how it should be.


I really couldn't care less how Bush tries to play this. The simple fact is that he has been found to be operating outside of international law. If he tries to claim the he was right, it's a simple matter to refer him back to the courts ruling.

Dr Strangelove,

Thanks for that. This "procedural stuff" is exactly what Tommy and the Bushites object to. It's called the law. Pesky thing isn't it?

Musclemouth said...

I honestly gotta hand it to Tommy for taking my question seriously. Sure, I disagree on a lot of points, but he did in fact open my mind to new entanglements of thinking I hadn't considered. Now as much as I would like to pigeonhole Tommy as a robot and a sheep, I won't. Well, not right now anyway. Because the effort to provide a viable answer was sincere.

In response, Tommy, in comes down to this: there are things we know and things we don't know. The question arises: how do we deal with what we don't know? Do we simply trust our government's answers? That seems to be the crux of pro-dictator commentators like yourself.

Me, I'm too curious of a guy to just take the government at face value. Sure, if they were good people through and through and we could all prove that to our satisfaction, then perhaps I could forgive the existence of state secrets. But the problem is, the government's credibility is ZERO. Their motives have been widely speculated upon. And let's get real here. It's speculation to try and discern its motives. My speculation of choice, given the evidence and track record, is that the government wants power and money. They ARE the mafia. England's government too.

So you got the terrorists on one side, and the goverment on the other. The people are the ones who get caught in the middle. That holds true for every damn thing that ever appears in any history book. It's always two or more big-time gangs, posing as legitimate "rulers", fighting over the rewards of domination. Money and power. Say it with me, Tommy. Money and power. One more: money and power.

Guantanamo is about power. It is about the deep-seated pleasure of being able to inflict pain and suffering at will. That is power. That is Guantanamo. All else is entanglement via "debate".

tommy said...


You are wrong. We are talking about more than abstract principles we are talking about the real-life need for dealing with terrorists and the need for effective strategies in fighting them. I have no trouble distinguishing between our own citizens and foreign terrorists or between legitimate armies and militias and terrorists, something the more left-wing set on our Supreme Court seems to have difficulty doing these days.

I can only imagine what it would have been like if people like you were around during the Second World War when we had hundreds of thousands of German detainees in camps in practically every state in this country.

Or how about Winson Churchill's authorizing the summary executions of many Nazis who were being sought in Germany in the immediate aftermath of WWII for crimes against British POWs?

Nope. No trial. Just an execution. Imagine if Bush instituted a policy like that today. We would never hear and end to the shrieks of the left.

Trust me, if people on your side of this debate were around today, you would be calling for criminal charges against Roosevelt and Churchill for the way they conducted the war.

Again, this ruling doesn't disturb me as much as it initially did. We still have plenty of leeway to operate and I think Bush may still get the tribunals he is seeking. However, how al-Qaeda can be considered a party to the Geneva Convention, a convention they never signed and don't adhere to in practice, is beyond me.

Guantanamo is about power. It is about the deep-seated pleasure of being able to inflict pain and suffering at will. That is power. That is Guantanamo. All else is entanglement via "debate".

The only ones inflicting pain and suffering at will are the detainees themselves - who routinely hurl shit and piss at the guards, who attempt gouge out the eyeballs and otherwise attack our guards at every available instance.

All the while these same guards are supposed to treat the inmates with kid gloves down to handling a stupid Qur'an as though it were the Cullinan Diamond.

Trust me, I have a family member involved in counterterrorism work and he has spent time at Gitmo during investigations - it has nothing to do with taking pleasure in anything.

Time to start prosecuting these detainees for their criminal acts in addition to holding them as POWs.

Kel said...


Principles are not abstract as you claim, that's why the government lost in this case. And any comparison with WWII is ridiculous. The analogy simply does not hold.

Bush is at war with a noun. That is to me a nonsense. You can only declare war on a country not on a tactic.

So there is no reason to hold these men. They should be charged with whatever crime they are supposed to have committed or they should be released. I do not agree that they can be held until hostilies are over as most of them were seized in Afghanistan and that conflict is over.

The idea that you can hold them until Bush's War on terror ends is a nonsense as that is an unending campaign against a tactic rather than an actual war as laid down by the rules of war.

Kel said...

Sorry, one other thing. You mentioned Geneva and your lack of understanding as to why it applies. It applies because America is a signatory. It matters not whether or not your opponent has signed up as you are defining your values, not his.

You are saying that you believe there are certain ways that prisoners should be treated and that you agree to do so. Whether your opponent does or not.

It's like beheadings. They are wrong. Just because your opponent does it doesn't mean you should start doing.

Your humanity is not defined by the actions of your enemy, but by your own.

And as Winston Churchill said, you define any society by how it treats it's prisoners.

Off till Monday!

Musclemouth said...

I'm not saying the soldiers necessarily take pleasure in harming others. It's those who command the soldiers - those who have absolute power over what the soldiers are ordered to do.

And those soldeirs routinely beat the prisoners. At least in transit, according to the testimony of at least one soldier I have heard from, the soldiers are encouraged to beat the soldiers, until it becomes and game and a way to pass the time.

And you wanna tell me our soldiers are too weak to withstand a couple of fistfulls of poop? Come on, I'd throw poop if I were in prison, whether I was guilty or not. I would pee too. And try to unduce projectile vomiting as well.

Those poor, poor soldiers. They would never get over the stench of my waste matter. It would haunt them in their nightmares, that's for sure.

Wow, I am just excreting sarcasm today. Tommy, I love ya. No matter how much I disagree with you. I've been in your same position - in the opposition's territory. You're handling our rebukes very well. I think you do have a heart...but I believe your mind has been hijacked by someone else's train of thought.

Seriously. This goes for everyone: whose thoughts are you having? Your own, entirely?

Musclemouth said...

Woops...In the second paragraph above, I said, "...the soldiers are encouraged to beat the soldiers..." I meant the soldiers are encouraged to beat the PRISONERS. Obvious enough, but I thought I'd clarify.

And it's true, by the way. Deny all you want. Choose which facts suit your purpose. That's fine.

Musclemouth said...

Oh, and as for the Supreme Court ruling...yep, I agree with Tommy here. It won't change a thing. The rule of law is irrelevant to false flag terrorists.

Kel said...


I'm sure Bush will try to find ways to circumnavigate the decision. But the most important point for me is that he has lost the argument that being a war time President allows him to do as he pleases.

And, of course, the fact that the supreme court have argued that geneva and all other international laws apply.

Rummy and others have being trying to imply that Geneva does not apply for the last five years. Indeed, Gonzales referred to Geneva as "quaint".

That form of right wing extremism has been called for what it is.

I'm sure they'll try to fight it another way, but they lost an important battle here.