Turning Lemons Into Lemonade On The Court’s Gitmo Decision

As most of you have no doubt heard, the Supreme Court has said that Bush doesn’t have the authority to make the terrorists at Gitmo face military Tribunals:

“The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that President George W. Bush lacks authority to try Guantanamo Bay inmates before military tribunals, a blow to the administration’s anti-terrorism strategy that scales back presidential wartime powers.

The justices, voting 5-3, said Congress hadn’t expressly authorized the military commissions. The justices also said the structure and procedures of the tribunals violate both the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The ruling is a major political and legal setback for Bush, scuttling plans to try three dozen Guantanamo inmates before tribunals. The ruling also boosts suits challenging the incarceration of hundreds of other detainees.”

I don’t agree with this decision at all because I believe Commander-in-Chief has the Constitutional authority to deal with foreign prisoners, held outside of the US, as he sees fit, without Congressional oversight. That being said, from what I’m seeing, this may not be the huge setback it’s being portrayed as by the press and the Democrats.

For one thing, as Jonathan Adler over at Bench Memos pointed out,

“(T)he Court apparently reaffirmed the executive’s authority to detain enemy combatants for the duration of hostilities.”

So we can’t put them in front of a military tribunal, but we can still hold them indefinitely.

Also, if the reasoning here is supposed to be that Congress hasn’t approved of military tribunals, then let’s put it up for a vote. My suspicion is that most Democrats would favor putting these terrorists through the American court system, which would mean long drawn out trials, the risk of classified intelligence sources being revealed, and lots of bogus acquittals. On the other hand, Republicans would favor military tribunals, which would sidestep all of those problems.

So basically, we’ll have the Democrats who’ll be so concerned about the terrorists rights that they’d favor letting them beat the system and get loose to kill more Americans. On the other hand, the Republicans won’t be very concerned about the right of foreign terrorists and their first priority will be protecting America. Protecting the rights of Al-Qaeda or protecting America?

Let’s put those two views in front of the American people, preferably before the 2006 elections, and then let them make a decision about which Party they trust on National Security.

Update #1: I added the word “bogus” to the third paragraph up from the bottom.

Update #2: From RWN’s own comment section on this post:

“You know, what drives me frigging crazy is the “we’re in a war” bullsh*t. We’re in a war of choice – a boutique war – waged by ethical/moral cretins who hold the highest positions in the land (positions of war-making) thanks to asterisks and technicalities and voting irregularities and other unsavory mishaps…so these f*ckers say “War,” and the masses – you – say, “How much, oh dearest? How much blood do ye want?”

Call war; make war rules; ain’t no different than anything going on in 1984 or Animal Farm (“some animals are more equal than others…”).

Force, decree, demand – these do not a just war make. Or a necessary war. The War on Terror is a farcical exercise in authoritarianism, and happy adherents thereto. Meanwhile, real people suspended above the least semblance of justice die by degrees, in Sh*tf*ck Prison #1, Guantanamo.

Grotesque. You support this, you best not say you support America, or freedom, or liberty. Do NOT say THAT.” — Scrappy

Look at the sort of kooky rants this issue inspires from the left. Are you telling me the GOP wouldn’t benefit from having a “knock down drag out” in front of the American public over this issue when lots of people with this sort of mentality are on the other side?

Update #3: Apparently, some of the heavies in the GOP are thinking the same thing that I am. From press releases I’ve been emailed today:

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) today issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Hamdan case:

“We are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision. However, we believe the problems cited by the Court can and should be fixed.

“It is inappropriate to try terrorists in civilian courts. It threatens our national security and places the safety of jurors in danger. For those reasons and others, we believe terrorists should be tried before military commissions.

“In his opinion, Justice Breyer set forth the path to a solution of this problem. He wrote, ‘Nothing prevents the president from returning to Congress to seek the authority he believes necessary.’

“We intend to pursue legislation in the Senate granting the Executive Branch the authority to ensure that terrorists can be tried by competent military commissions. Working together, Congress and the administration can draft a fair, suitable, and constitutionally permissible tribunal statute.”

From John Cornyn:

“This is a blockbuster decision, and it will take some time to determine the consequences of what the Court said today. But they’ve opened the door to a legislative remedy, and as Congress plays a key role in this debate, we’ll work with the administration to reach a solution.

“We’re not talking about simple criminals—these detainees include the most violent terrorists in the world. And let’s not forget who we’re talking about in this particular case: Hamdan was captured in Afghanistan and is charged with delivering weapons and ammunition to al Qaeda, providing logistical support to bin Laden’s bodyguards and participating in weapons training.

Update #4: From another press release, this time by Jeb Hensarling:

“The Court’s decision will impede our nation’s ability to wage the War on Terror and reveals a frightening lack of understanding about the enemy that we face,” said Hensarling. “We are fighting a transitional network of terrorists with an ideology that calls for the death of Western civilization, not an army. Congress will work with the President to reach an effective solution to this setback.”

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