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The Pillars Of Wisdom?


This just in from the Bush DoJ:

“That is more process than the United States has ever provided to enemy combatants in our past conflicts,'' Blomquist said.

Could some enterprising journalist please ask the follow-up question: how many times in American history have we designated people as "enemy combatants?" Because I think that the American public would find the answer to that question very illuminating.

“This is the first time in the history of this country that a court has held that a man may be held by our government in a place where no law applies,'' said Barbara Olshansky, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has handled many detainee cases.

A federal judge in the DC Circuit has ruled that Hamdan and other detainees no longer have a right to appeal their detention in the federal court system due to the recent legislation passed by the GOP-controlled Congress. This sets up the judicial confrontation with the legislation that many have been expecting since its implementation — and allows for appeal up through the system toward the Supreme Court.

One wonders whether the Great Writ will be held to be as important to this Court as it was to the Founders, who placed it within the four corners of the Constitution itself, the only such individual civil right to be so placed.  Will a law which constricts application of habeas corpus principles to combatants that meet a very narrow definitional criteria newly applied by the Bush Administration without regard for the long-term precedential application of this — not just for the people we currently hold in Guantanimo, but for our military personnel who may now be held in the same standards by our enemies abroad.

There are a lot of questions that need to be asked and answered about this legislation.  They should have been explored more thoroughly at the time it was moving through the Judiciary and Armed Services committees — too bad the rubber stamp Republican Congress decided to abdicate its responsibility and function as George Bush's CYA Parliament instead of providing checks and balances to Bush Administration excesses.  Here's hoping the US Supreme Court continues to provide that legal check that we already saw in the first Hamdan case.

More on this ruling from the WaPo and the Sydney Morning Herold.  Glenn has excellent coverage that is well worth a read and some discussion here.  Also, Jeralyn has some thoughts and a link to the decision here.

Let's start with a small question:  why on earth would any non-US citizen ever want to come here, even for vacation or travel purposes, with this sort of draconian "if you aren't a citizen, we can hold you indefinitely, with no right to habeas or legal proceedings, because we get to define who may or may not be an 'enemy combatant' and you can't question us about it" rule on the books?  Discuss.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com