The Supreme Court today delivered a stunning rebuke to the Bush administration over its plans to try Guantanamo detainees before military commissions, ruling that the commissions violate U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of war prisoners.
In a 5-3 decision, the court said the trials were not authorized by any act of Congress and that their structure and procedures violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949.
That sure seems like SCOTUS has hamstrung our ability to fight the war we’re in, but I’m not so sure.
What I don’t know, and won’t know until I have time to sit down and read the decision, is whether this applies only to those commissions the President created. In other words, is the SCOTUS saying, “Mr. President, if you want to try them for criminal charges, you’re going to have to use the criminal court system.”? If that’s the case, then this decision really isn’t that big of a deal in the overall war. The President has a couple options left, one of which is to simply hold on to detainees indefinitely until cessation of hostilities or he feels like letting them go – something he is explicitly allowed to do.
Or our military can just bring back summary executions of those captured on the battlefield.
Both of those options work under the Geneva Conventions and we’ve used both of them in other wars before.
Or, the President can simply go to Congress and get the law he wants. I can’t imagine that he’d have much trouble getting it.
Still, I want to wait to read the decision before I firm up my opinion, one way or another.
I imagine, though, that we’ll get plenty of editorializing from the MSM in their coverage, such as the “stunning rebuke” comment, which has no place in an objective news story. Seems the Post, at least, isn’t waiting to form its opinion.
Category: Fighting the Islamists