Score one for We the People as the Supreme Court came down with a 5-3 ruling regarding Gitmo detainees and their right to a "regular" trial, or even be released if no charges are filed vs. Bush's desire to hold them without charges, detain them indefinitely and deny them rights under the Geneva Conventions. The SCOTUS ruled that Bush can NOT continue to have his unlimited power to unilaterally rule the world.
So this was, to me, one of the most telling cases that the Dubya-infested SCOTUS had on its' docket. Of course, those "non-activist" judges who installed Dear Leader in the first place have gotten a major injection of "compassionate conservatives" over the past year, and there have been a number of instances where we have been given some level of insight into just how screwed We the People will be for the next, oh, say 25 years or so.
But this is the first case (as far as I know) since both Alito and Roberts have been on the Court where the crux of the "war preznit" theory will be tested. By way of background, the case dealt with one of bin Laden's former chauffeurs, but of course, regardless of what the decision was, Gitmo will not close, and I am sure that Bush will continue to violate whatever laws he desires to violate.
As far as a somewhat detailed background, here is some information:
The nation's highest court is examining a myriad of challenges in the case of Osama bin Laden's former chauffeur, one of 10 detainees the Bush administration wants to put before a war crimes tribunal at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay.
Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001, is charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, murder, and terror acts against the U.S.
Human rights groups contend the tribunals, formally called military commissions, are flawed because they violate basic protections and would offer little legal protection.
Of course, Dear Leader and his band of war criminals are shouting "9/11!!!" at every turn, and this is all the more reason for the Supreme Court to have made a ruling that considered the major overstepping of the Geneva Conventions and other basic laws regarding the treatment of prisoners and detainees by this administration. We know that it would be the greatest thing for Bush, Abu Gonzalez and the rest to detain and torture as many "evildoersTM" that they can get their bloody hands on.
Considering that there are still around 450 people detained at Gitmo, and Bush wants to have military trials, if any trial at all, this was a big deal. Sadly, according to reports, there are only around 60-70 other detainees who would be charged with crimes, leaving nearly 400 with no charges.
Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the chief Guantánamo prosecutor, said about 65 more detainees being held at the U.S. base are likely to be charged with crimes if the Supreme Court upholds the process.
Prosecutors are preparing additional charges, including some that could incur the death penalty, Davis told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from Washington.
"We're pressing on, anticipating a favorable decision," he said.
Here is the text of the SCOTUS decision.
More importantly, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today's ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"—including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment.
This almost certainly means that the CIA's interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the Administation has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes).
If I'm right about this, it's enormously significant.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion, which said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and the Geneva Convention.
The ruling involved eight of the nine court members. Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by Bush, had removed himself because he previously was on a U.S. appeals court panel that ruled for the Bush administration in the Hamdan case.
here is the cnn.com link and some text:
The 5-3 ruling means officials will either have to come up with new procedures to prosecute at least 10 so-called enemy combatants awaiting trial, or release them from U.S. military custody.
Three issues were before the high court: whether the planned tribunals are a proper exercise of presidential authority; whether detainees facing prosecution have the right to challenge the procedures of those tribunals and their detentions; and whether the Supreme Court even has the jurisdiction to hear such appeals.
Chief Justice John Roberts did not participate in the Hamdan case. He had ruled against the government last year when the case was argued in a lower federal appeals court.
The vote was split 5-3, with moderate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the court's liberal members in ruling against the Bush administration. Chief Justice John Roberts, named to the lead the court last September by Bush, was sidelined in the case because as an appeals court judge he had backed the government over Hamdan.
Thursday's ruling overturned that decision.
Bush spokesman Tony Snow said the White House would have no comment until lawyers had had a chance to review the decision. Officials at the Pentagon and Justice Department were planning to issue statements later in the day.
Three detainees committed suicide there this month, using sheets and clothing to hang themselves. The deaths brought new scrutiny and criticism of the prison, along with fresh calls for its closing.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a strongly worded dissent, saying the court's decision would "sorely hamper the president's ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy."
The court's willingness, Thomas said, "to second-guess the determination of the political branches that these conspirators must be brought to justice is both unprecedented and dangerous."
Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito also filed dissents.
In his own opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer said, "Congress has not issued the executive a 'blank check."'
"Indeed, Congress has denied the president the legislative authority to create military commissions of the kind at issue here. Nothing prevents the president from returning to Congress to seek the authority he believes necessary," Breyer wrote.
A good day for We the People.