Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Holy Crap, George Will Got It Right

On the restoration of habeas corpus:

The day after the Supreme Court ruled that detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo are entitled to seek habeas corpus hearings, John McCain called it "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country." Well.

Does it rank with Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), which concocted a constitutional right, unmentioned in the document, to own slaves and held that black people have no rights that white people are bound to respect? With Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which affirmed the constitutionality of legally enforced racial segregation? With Korematsu v. United States (1944), which affirmed the wartime right to sweep American citizens of Japanese ancestry into concentration camps?

Did McCain's extravagant condemnation of the court's habeas ruling result from his reading the 126 pages of opinions and dissents? More likely, some clever ignoramus convinced him that this decision could make the Supreme Court -- meaning, which candidate would select the best judicial nominees -- a campaign issue.

There's more I could quote, but I'd probably be violating fair use at that point. Anyways...

The ruling by the courts was the right one. We have gone nearly seven years since detainees started being held extralegally at Guantanamo Bay. It has been about that long since I first wrote on the issue. I said then:

Currently, Mr. Ashcroft has detained over 600 people, whom we do not know their names, whether they are residents or not, anything except that they have been "detained." Usually being detained means they are held for 48 hours or so. In the case of our friend John, he has held them since September. In other words, that's 90 days.

By now, shouldn't we know whether we are holding terrorists or terrorist accessories? After three months, you'd think our intelligence and police agencies would have a clue as to what these people are or are not involved in. What Ashcroft has done violates the Constitution, which states a person cannot be held for more than a certain amount of time without charges filed against them. Yet no one seems to notice. Perhaps it is because we don't know anything about the detainees that keeps us from caring. Only a small portion of the country has spoken out about this travesty. [snip]

The results produced so far are results that a 13-year old could figure out. We are no closer to solving this case than we are to "discovering" whether anyone in this country aided and abetted the terrorists. I would venture that none of the over 600 people detained have any knowledge of the terrorist attacks or helped in them.

In a nation that fought a long war to establish its freedom and has maintained a continuous body of government since its creation, which is rare enough in history, we have the head of the Justice Department trying to enforce justice himself, when that is the responsibility of the courts.

It's sad we're still debating this after seven years. It's sad there are still people on the right who think this is perfectly alright. It's sad that the "law & order" party has no respect whatsoever for what the law clearly is. The Supreme Court, this President's Supreme Court (because it's his guy leading it), still struck him down again on the habeas issue, and the right-wing screamed as if they'd burned down the White House. Justice Scalia's dissent, particularly odious in its obvious threats and partisanship, reveals that he has shed any pretense of fairness in defense of an ideology that this nation has clearly rejected, and will do so again this fall.

America has stopped being scared. The Supreme Court stopped being scared. Even George Will, who normally makes me want to rip off my ears after a "This Week" appearance, gets it as right as he possibly could on this one, that habeas corpus is "the great writ of liberty" and that by the Court granting them this right, it doesn't guarantee their release, the approval of a hearing, or create any danger to us other than that they can challenge the totalitarian practice of indefinite imprisonment. Thank God for that.


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