November 14, 2005


ONE STEP BACK: Senate vote to strip Guantanamo detainees of legal rights affirmed by the Supreme Court sends the wrong message to the world about U.S. justice. (Houston Chronicle, 11/14/05)

THE U.S. Senate narrowly approved an amendment by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to deny basic legal rights to prisoners held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. If approved by the House, the measure would prevent prisoners from seeking redress in American courts and invalidate hundreds of habeas corpus motions already filed by detainees to force authorities to justify their imprisonment.

The measure is contrary to traditional American concepts of justice and will damage U.S. stature abroad.

The U.S. penal facility at Guantanamo holds about 500 people designated by U.S. authorities as enemy combatants. The administration wants to limit their contact with civilian courts to narrow procedural matters. Sen. Graham justified his measure on the grounds that excessive legal actions by detainees were interfering with efforts by military officials to gather intelligence from them.

If enacted into law, the Graham legislation would roll back last year's Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of detainees to use American courts to challenge their imprisonment.

Who doesn't recall the moral revulsion with which their teachers explained that FDR was a barbarian for not allowing the hundreds of thousands of German and Japanese POWs challenge their detentions in our courts?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 14, 2005 8:59 AM

Even more "traditionally," these scum would have already been Afghan worm food for the past four years.

Posted by: Rick T. at November 14, 2005 9:31 AM

I'm not about to write a #%&*#@! law review article about it--I'm going to the range in about half an hour--it will suffice to say that everything, that is EVERYTHING, in the media about this issue is wrong.

People who should know better, people claiming to be law professors, are writing garbage which distorts the facts, the law, and the very language surounding treatment of enemy combatants.

Contemporary Supreme Court case law substantially supports the Administration position. The Graham Amendment responds to issues raised in the cases concerning potential ambiguity in Congressional authorization of Executive activity.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 14, 2005 11:51 AM

"The measure is contrary to traditional American concepts of justice and will damage U.S. stature abroad."

Then there's this headline from today's Seattle Times: "McCain says torture ban vital to U.S. image".

Sometimes I get the feeling that for too many people, foreign policy is just like the jockeying for dates at their high school prom.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 14, 2005 1:23 PM


Just think of the lasting damage that Vietnam's torture of Senator McCain and others did to its international standing. What kind of leader would ever propose normal relations with such a country?

Posted by: oj at November 14, 2005 1:28 PM

July 11, 1995
President Clinton announces normalization of relations with Vietnam, saying the time has come to move forward and bind up the wounds from the war.

Posted by: David Reeves at November 14, 2005 2:01 PM

Despite his P.O.W. background, Mr. McCain frequently angered veterans groups by moving forward toward normalization when they were still pushing for a fuller accounting of those still listed as missing in action. Having been in prison during the most hostile period of antiwar protests, he has displayed little understanding of how deeply many combat veterans were scarred by the reception they received upon coming home.

Never having served on the ground in South Vietnam, he seldom articulated a concern for those South Vietnamese who had suffered immensely in the war and its aftermath. And he created a perception in some circles that he would reach over allies to work with enemies by allying himself to Senator John Kerry, who once headed Vietnam Veterans Against the War, as well as providing political cover for President Clinton when normalization was announced.

Posted by: punchline at November 14, 2005 2:08 PM

Why should we make it possible for enemy combatants, of no particular nation, to clog up our court system for any reason?

I think the lawyers that are feeding these suits into the courts should pay for court costs out of their own pockets.

Posted by: Bartman at November 14, 2005 2:52 PM

Lou Gots, I'd hate to be one of those targets you're going to shoot at. Come back safe and tell us more.

Posted by: erp at November 14, 2005 3:59 PM

For the same reason we never signed on to all those calls to sign "No First Use of [weapon x]" or "Ban Land Mines" or all those other calls for preemptive surrender. That people think we'd stoop to the level of Viet Nam or China or National Socialist Germany or Ancient Rome says more about the people making the accusations than it ever will about the US. If anything, the opportunities for our enemies to self-identify is worth the price of not gaining the respect of those same enemies, a respect we'll never get no matter what we do.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 14, 2005 4:03 PM

And in light of Senator Keating-McCain's desire to be President, it's as if he's saying, "If I'm elected, I can't be trusted to not torture, so you'd better pass this law before my inauguration."

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 14, 2005 4:09 PM

Raoul: The lawyers are doing it because they can. Not because they have some sense of justice. It's dollar signs only. Frivolous (spelling?) lawsuits cost all of us millions of dollars.

Posted by: Bartman at November 14, 2005 7:17 PM

"The measure is contrary to traditional American concepts of justice and will damage U.S. stature abroad."

Oh yeah! I don't think I could handle any more of that. Is national suicide an option?

Posted by: Genecis at November 15, 2005 9:42 PM