Friday, June 30, 2006

Bush loses big on Guantánamo

Somehow, by the grace of Athena, the Supreme Court yesterday managed to do, for a change, the right thing on the matter of the men being held illegally at a U.S. prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba -- at least half a world away from the places from which they were seized.

You'll recall, mes amis, that the Bush administration had declared itself immune from the protocols of international and domestic law -- not to mention the Military Code of Justice -- in the matter of trials for the Guantánamo detainees. Because they were swept up as part of the so-called War on Terror -- which is being waged against the United States, according to the White House, not by governments but by individuals -- the administration contended that the rules by which our nation is bound in the conduct of warfare did not apply to those it deemed to be terrorists.

Yesterday, the High Court ruled that the show trials of detainees concocted by the administration were not legal, because they did not meet the minimum conditions laid out in Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, to which the U.S. is a signatory.

For its part, the Pentagon claims that the Court's ruling has no bearing on its practice of holding detainees indefinitely without charge, but that line of reasoning is errant on its face. If the show trials (or tribunals, as they are called) are not valid because they fail to meet the standards of international and Constitutional law, then surely detention absent habeas corpus should be struck down by the same decision. At least, that's your blogstress's reading of the matter, which relies more on augury than actual knowledge of the law.

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