Surprising Supreme Court Ruling Favors Guantanamo Bay Prisoners

originally posted 2008-06-12 06:58:30 -- bumped. Check out the McClatchy video of the detainees in the link Standingup provides below... chilling. If you think Guantanamo can be justified on the basis that it makes America safer, this video is definitely worth watching - cho

This might be one of the most encouraging news items in years. The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling that Guantanamo Bay prisoners have a constitutional right to habeas corpus. McClatchy Washington Bureau reports:

A sharply divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled Guantanamo Bay detainees have the right to challenge their extended imprisonment in federal court, and struck down as inadequate an alternative review system set up by Congress.

Repudiating a key tenet of the Bush administration’s war-on-terror policy, the court’s 5-4 majority concluded the foreigners held in Guantanamo Bay retain the same habeas corpus rights as U.S. residents.

We can hope this decision will be the first of rulings and other actions that begin to bring our nation back into line with our founding principles and that important document know as the constitution.

Also just released by McClatchy, a new video report, Beyond the Law:

McClatchy reporters spent eight months traveling to 11 countries, interviewing 66 former U.S. military detainees about their experiences in detention systems at Guantanamo and in Afghanistan.

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Pretty much once I found out that an 11 year old child was being held at Guantanamo, any possible justification for the place went out the window.

If our laws mean anything, then they should be tested and used by trying the men held at Guantanamo in an American court. Which means, that Guantanamo itself has no purpose.

From McClatchy's Nukes 'n Spooks blog [Marisa Taylor + Nancy Youssef]:

Justice Department media representatives set up a briefing with department lawyers, but insisted the question-and-answer session be off-the-record. They acknowledged it was an unusual demand, but said they couldn’t discuss the decision because they were still reviewing it.

. . . Associated Press reporter Matt Apuzzo quickly objected, saying the off-the-record rule "does nothing to help anybody understand anything."

When he said he would consider the discussion on the record, he was told he should get off the call. Apuzzo refused, saying "there’s just no reason for this to be an off-the-record call." A conference call mute button prevented 40 other reporters from chiming in.

I found the Department of Justice's response every bit as chilling as the McClatchy video interviews of the detainees.

"We are disappointed with the Court’s decision. The Court recognized that an adjustment to typical habeas proceedings may be appropriate, but required the hundreds of actions challenging the detention of enemy combatants at Guantanamo to be moved to district court. The Department is reviewing the decision and its implications on the existing detainee litigation.

"While we disagree with the ruling, it is important to note that the Boumediene case did not concern military commission trials. Boumediene involved a challenge to the procedures that Congress and the Executive have established to permit enemy combatants at Guantanamo to challenge their detention during ongoing hostilities. Those enemy combatants who have been charged by a military commission with war crimes are afforded numerous additional protections in connection with those trials. Military commission trials will therefore continue to go forward. To the extent that Boumediene addresses matters that could affect the commission trials, those matters will initially be litigated before the military commissions themselves. In the event of a conviction, the accused will have the right to appeal to both military and federal appellate courts."

In the video Standingup links to, many of those who were held and beaten, were in fact, those who helping the Americans in Afghanistan. But the DOJ waves its magic "enemy combatant" phrase three times and makes their public relations nightmare disappear.... for the time being.