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Supreme Court denies Bush's power grab - Comments (0)
Carole McWilliams - 6/27/2008
Just in time for the Fourth of July, the U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed – for the third time – that George W. Bush can’t cancel the Fifth Amendment or habeas corpus rights, even with the complicity of a previously Republican-controlled Congress.
On June 12 the court ruled, yet again, that prisoners at Bush’s Guantanamo gulag can challenge their detention in US courts.
The court threw out the fall 2006 Military Commissions Act passed by the Republican-controlled congress to get around the previous Supreme Court rulings on this – one of various Republican attempts to sabotage constitutional checks and balances and separation of powers.
Habeas corpus means the government must show actual legal justification and factual basis for locking someone up. The Military Commissions Act retroactively cancelled that right for Gitmo prisoners.
It’s interesting that at the same time as the June 12 court ruling, the British Parliament narrowly approved a controversial bill to allow terrorism suspects to be held for up to 42 days without filing charges, up from 28 days.
In the US, the world’s alleged beacon of freedom, Bush has claimed the power to sweep up people in places like Afghanistan (and even arrest US citizens in the US), declare them guilty of a terrorism-related charge, and lock them up indefinitely without filing charges or showing evidence, and without access to an attorney. The Military Commissions Act was an attempt to validate that.
Bush called Gitmo prisoners “the worst of the worst.” Some are. But consider:
•In 2006 the Seton Hall NJ Law School issued two reports based on Defense Department data that said 86 percent of people picked up in Afghanistan were arrested by Pakistanis or the Northern Alliance warlords and turned over to US troops when we were paying bounties and not asking questions.
•I have an Oct. 1, 2006 news brief about a memoir by our so-called ally, Pakistani President Musharraf, that says his government made millions of dollars on bounties from handing over terrorism suspects (ie. political opponents?) to US forces.
•McClatchy Newspapers just printed a series on Gitmo based on months of research. Besides those bounties, they report people arrested on the basis of false witness claims made as vendettas, or even made by Taliban/ alQaida supporters. Some arrestees were even working for our side!
Maybe that’s why the “evidence” against these people has to be classified.
Bush doesn’t admit mistakes, so of course Gitmo the military tribunals had to be set up as kangaroo courts. Prisoners and their representatives can’t see alleged evidence against them. They don’t know why they are being held.
In the June 12 majority decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”
One disappointment of the Supreme Court ruling is that four Justices, all so-called conservatives, voted with Bush that the US Constitution is a document of convenience when it comes to habeas corpus and due process rights.
Hopefully this will no longer be an issue after Jan. 20, 2009.