The Supreme Court has announced
it will hear the case of 13 detainees who, though deemed not to be
enemy combatants, are still held at Guantanamo. The detainees, Chinese
Muslim Uighurs, have asked not to be returned to China for fear of
torture, and no other country has agreed to take them. If the Supreme
Court sides with the detainees, they would likely be
released into the U.S., something both the Bush and Obama White Houses
have moved to prevent. The case, then, is as much about the
Constitutionality of detention as it is a power struggle between the
courts and the executive branch.
- Supreme Court Pushes Back Supreme Court analyst Lyle Denniston wrote at SCOTUSblog that this is part of larger battle
between the court and an unrestrained White House. "They have been able
to [continue detention policies] largely without looking over their
shoulders to see what the Supreme Court might do to limit their
options. That has just changed," he writes. "At its core, then, the
three-way government contemplation in coming
months of the law of detention is not so much a polite minuet as it is
a serious rivalry between energetic branches determined to protect
their own prerogatives. If the rivalry stays focused on constitutional
interpretation, though, the Justices -- with the 'power and duty to say
what the law is' -- may well have the last word."
- White House Ignores Court's Rulings The American Prospect's Adam Serwer explains the court system's struggle against the executive branch. "The perspective of the folks representing the detainees is that once
a court determines that the government has no right to detain a
particular individual, they should be let go. In practice they say, the
entire process has slowed down because the courts know that the only
thing they can do is recommend that the government initiate the
diplomatic process for facilitating a detainees' release. As
a result, despite the fact that 30 out of 38 habeas petitions have been
granted to Gitmo detainees, no more than 13 have been released.
In other words, the administration and the task force ultimately decide
when and where detainees are released--which from the perspective of
civil libertarians, it means the habeas proceedings are almost
- Supreme Court Doesn't Understand Al Qaeda The Weekly Standard's Thomas Joscelyn worries,
"There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical about the Supreme Court's
ability to get it right here." Joscelyn cites a previous Supreme Court
case, Gates v. Parha, which he says demonstrated the court's
"fundamental ignorance" when dealing with terrorists. "This is the
September 10 mindset -- only worse. Federal courts with no
particular knowledge of or expertise in understanding al Qaeda are
determining how America's warriors can fight back. What makes this
particularly troubling is that President Obama has cited the courts'
habeas decisions, including the specious Parhat ruling, as a prime reason that Gitmo detainees need to be released or transferred."
- Obama Continues Bush-Era Policies Huffington Post's Andy Worthington calls
the current White House's extension of Bush's policy "the weakest
moments of the Obama presidency regarding Guantánamo" and calls for
their release. "As the eighth anniversary of the men's wrongful capture
approaches, they surely deserve nothing less." Worthington writes of
their detention, "Had the government backed down, the four Uighurs who
took up residence in Bermuda in June -- where they soon demonstrated
to any open-minded local that they were not, and had never been
terrorists -- would have performed the same remarkable task on the
streets of Washington, D.C. instead, and even Americans seduced by the
Bush administration's unsubstantiated rhetoric
about the 'terrorists' of Guantánamo would have been able to discover,
first hand, that the Bush administration made mistakes at Guantánamo,
and that innocent men were held."
- Freedom is Fundamental: Release Uighurs Steven D of the liberal blog Booman Tribune is outraged that anyone would want
innocents to continue in prison. "Some fundamental principles are more
important than inconveniencing any
administration. One of those is the right of people being held
unlawfully by the government to challenge that detention. We are big
about our "freedoms" here in America. It's what every right winger I
know claims we are doing by sending soldiers to kill and be killed to
Iraq and Afghanistan. Defending our freedoms," he writes. "If we, as a
country refuse the Uighurs their day in Court, we have lost
that freedom guaranteed under our Constitution. It's just a worthless
promise on a piece of paper to paraphrase former President Bush."
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