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Hamdan v. Rumsfeld


Terrorists Win Crucial Ruling in Hamdan
Justice Kennedy joined the Stevens wing of the Supreme Court in a ruling today, which grants the rights of United States Citizens to terrorists captured on the battlefield and held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Justice Stevens' seventy-three page opinion needs only eleven to brush aside the Detainee Treatment Act adopted by Congress in December 2005 which specifies in part that "no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by an . . . alien detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay . . . ." The rest of the majority opinion explains how the President lacks the authority to designate military commissions to prosecute terrorists. The ruling is remarkable for its complete disregard for the separation of powers and detachment from reality. Dissents by Justices Scalia and Thomas define the scope of this disaster.


"Terrorists Win Crucial Ruling in Hamdan"

I think you mean "Alleged Terrorists" or "Accused Terrorists."

That was sorta kinda the whole point of the case.

I have been impressed with the commentary at this site so far, but this post seems unnecessarily alarmist. The Supreme Court did not grant "the rights of United States Citizens to terrorists." The decision in Hamdan simply stands for the proposition that military commissions at Guantanamo must comply with the Geneva Conventions. Justice Stevens' opinion spends considerably more than 11 words to explain how the government's motion to dismiss pursuant to the DTA should be denied. In fact, the decision spends *13 pages* discussing the issue. And the decision most definitely does NOT say that "the President lacks the authority to designate military commissions to prosecute terrorists." See the sentence above about the Geneva Conventions.

This post seems detached from reality, and I hope that it stems from reliance on press reports about the decision rather than a close reading of the actual opinions in the case. In any event, I look forward to a return to reasoned and thoughtful commentary in future posts.

I wanted to add two clarifying points to my comment above. First, the Hamdan decision clearly stands for *more* than the proposition that the military commissions must be structured in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, and my statement to that effect was ill-considered (i.e., flat wrong). But I think it equally clear that, had the commissions complied with the requirements of the Geneva conventions, they would have been upheld. And contrary to the assertion in the original post, nowhere in the majority decision is there language guaranteeing terrorist detainees the full panoply of constitutional rights enjoyed by American citizens.

Second, I think it's fair to say that the administration's program for trying these detainees has been in a quagmire for quite some time. The Hamdan decision points the way for Congress and the President to work together to create a system of military commissions that operates to hold alleged terrorists accountable while still remaining faithful to our traditions as a nation governed by the rule of law. No conservative should fear that outcome.

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