Friday, June 30, 2006

Politics: How to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

Once upon a time it was pretty easy to spot good guys and bad guys. One wore white hats; the other, black. In these times when not everyone is obliging enough to run around wearing identifying headgear, you sometimes have to listen to the dialogue to figure out which team they're on.

For instance, if their national leadership says that holding detainees in a fictitious legal limbo to be tried by kangaroo courts is illegal, and that
"The Constitution is best preserved by reliance on standards tested over time and insulated from the pressures of the moment,"
then it's pretty safe to assume that their stetsons, were they wearing any, would be freshly bleached. Along the same lines, anybody who turns down a request by his own military and security services to label detainees as "Unlawful Combatants" and instead
insist[s] that the arrests be carried out under ordinary criminal warrants that would require legal proceedings against the Hamas officials under the Prevention of Terror Ordinance
is probably not shopping for black yarmulkes, either.

Every now and then, it seems, folks in the strangest of places just get an urge to Do The Right Thing.


B&N said...

A rare moment of clarity for Kennedy, I think. It definitely doesn't fit the Ultra-Lib model of doing whatever-seems-right-at-the-moment mentality that is so pervasive these days.

Wish he'd use that reasoning for the rest of his days on the court, but I ain't holding my breath.

With that said, I can't say that I feel all that bad for those bastards at Gitmo, due process or not

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Tam, but if anybody is guilty of overstepping their constitutional boundaries here, it's five Supreme Court justices. Just in the last couple of years, for example:

--the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in the Kelo decision to dismantle property rights, and basically turned every citizen who isn't at least a millionaire into a serf, who can be kicked off his land at the whim of our masters and betters;

--tossed out the death sentence of a brutal Missouri killer not because his prosecution was unconstitutional or flawed, but rather because, according to five Supreme Court Justices, the "consensus opinion" of foreign law held that the death penalty was unfair (something to keep in mind while the UN gun summit is going on, BTW);

--and now the same gang of five usual suspects has arbitrarily rewritten the Geneva Conventions to extend its protections to head-hacking, babykilling, torturing, bomb-throwing Al Qaeda rapists captured on foreign battlefields...despite the fact that they are clearly not entitled to GC protections.

The Geneva Conventions clearly state that terrorists, spies, saboteurs and anybody else masquerading as civilians and carrying out such acts of indiscrimate slaughter and rapine are considered "unlawful enemy combatants"...and may be summarily executed. All of which was ignored by these five justices in denying the Bush Administration the right to set up military tribunals to decide the fate of jihadis...who, again, were captured on foreign battlefields, not snatched off the streets here at home.

The Hamdan majority also ignored long-standing constitutional precedents going back to before the Civil War giving the President the authority to authorize and organize military tribunals for dealing with such prisoners. (Apparently, five Supreme Court justices think stare decisis only applies to Roe v. Wade.) And, by saying that Congress had not given this President the authority to set up military tribunals (as opposed to Abraham Lincoln or FDR), the Hamdan decision also creates a seperation-of-powers issue that infringes upon the President's constitutionally-mandated role as Commander-in-Chief of the military.

And, oh yeah, the Supremes also basically said that we can hold these guys indefinitely - even for the rest of their natural lives, if that's how long it takes - but we can't try them. Not unless we give them access to our civilian courts...which means that the War on Terror comes to a screeching halt while we bring the troops home to testify in the criminal trials of the terrorists they captured on the battlefield, and intelligence sources and methods are exposed during the course of the discovery process. I guess that means that our troops will have to start treating captured terrorists and enemy POWs as criminal suspects, Miranda rights and all, while Americans who fall into enemy hands will still be subject to the usual torturing, raping, head-hacking, etc.

Excuse the bandwith hogging, Tam, but for me the bottom line here is that Justices Breyer, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Stevens really need some black hats to go along with their black imperial robes. And that Hamdan may turn out to be the worst Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott...and may lead to the same sort of bloody consequences.

--Wes S.

Tam said...

"but we can't try them. Not unless we give them access to our civilian courts"

I don't know which SCOTUS case you're referencing, Wes, but in this one they specifically stated that using standard military courts martial was okey-dokey.

The Supremes have made plenty of bad calls, but this wasn't one of them.

(Also, a careful read would note that I didn't say that it was the Supremes with the white stetsons, but us as a nation. It's the rule of law and its universal application that sets us apart from the head-hackers we're fighting.)

Steve Skubinna said...

I need to examine this more closely, but as I understand it, granting the detainees Geneva Convention status means we don't have to try them, and can hold them until hostilities cease.

In which case the jihadis better get used to Club Med Fed, because they can die of old age there.

Anonymous said...

OK, Tam, I've checked it out and you're right about full military court-martials being acceptable under Hamdan. My bad. The Uniform Code of Military Justice apparently says that court martials are preferred for dealing with captured enemy combatants accused of violating the laws of war where practicable...although military tribunals are an option under the UCMJ, should (for instance) intelligence sources and methods be potentially compromised in an open court, which can happen in a full-dress court martial during discovery. Apparently the five liberal justices blithely overlooked this as well as the Constitutional precedents.

And this brings us right back to the Court itself violating the Geneva Conventions by extending its protections to terrorists and war criminals who are, in fact, outlawed by it. (This is especially ironic, since this decision was handed down the same week that we saw Al Qaeda's notion of "reciprocity" when the butchered bodies of two GIs kidnapped in Baghdad were flown home for their closed-casket funerals.) I also think my observations about the liberal justices' disregard for the Constitution still hold up; Hamdan, under the circumstances, seems to be more of the same.

I don't think Hamdan would have produced such outrage and dissension had the Supremes left the Geneva Conventions stuff out of it, and produced a ruling that said something like:

"Look, we realize that while precedents exist for military tribunals, they were used during wars of short duration (four years in both the Civil War and America's involvement in WWII) against identifiable enemy nation-states. We are looking at a war that might last generations, against occasionally nations but more often shadowy, poorly-defined groups of people that hide amidst and masquerade as civilians...including our own. Since this new war is unlike anything we have ever experienced, and will touch upon the Constitutional responsibilities of all branches of government, not just presidential war powers, we ought to hold off on tribunals for these people until we've all sat down together to discuss how or if we can tailor them to this new sort of war without compromising our own principles."

Unfortunately, they didn't do that. And in the next year or so they'll probably get around to ruling that indefinite detention pending war's end for captured jihadis, even when granted POW status under the terms of the Geneva Conventions, is also "cruel and unusual" too.

Anyway, apologies for running on at the mouth. I'll be getting back to my life now...if I can remember where I left it... and I hope I'll still be welcome to surf and occasionally comment here. I love this blog. I found my way here via a link from Kim du Toit's webpage - the first post I read here was "This is Fort Bragg, how can I direct your call?" - and I've been checking back daily ever since. Hope I haven't worn out my welcome by arguing with the hostess. ;)

--Wes S.

Tam said...

Hey, if only people who agreed with me read this thing, I'd be getting like, one hit a day. ;)