Monday, January 31, 2005

Justice for Detainees

Here's a quick one for those intrepid readers stopping by looking for something new.

More proof that the political affiliation of the president who appoints a judge often times is a reliable predictor of how the issues will be evaluated. Today a federal district court judge held that the detainees in Cuba have rights beyond those the White House wants them to have.

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration must let foreign terror suspects challenge their confinement in U.S. courts, a judge said Monday in a ruling that found unconstitutional the hearing system set up by the Pentagon (news - web sites).
U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green also raised concerns about whether detainees have been tortured during interrogations. Judges, she said, should make sure people are not detained indefinitely based on coerced and unreliable information.

Foreigners from about 40 different countries have been held at the U.S. Navy (news - web sites) base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — some for more than three years — without being charged with any crimes. They were mainly swept up in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan (news - web sites).

The government contends the prisoners are dangerous "enemy combatants" who, because they are foreigners, are not entitled to the same constitutional protections as Americans.

Judges are trying to sort out detainee rights following a landmark Supreme Court ruling last summer that federal courts are open to appeals on behalf of the foreigners.

Green's ruling conflicts with a decision about two weeks ago by another federal judge in the same court who considered a similar lawsuit brought by a different group of detainees. Judge Richard Leon found that while the Supreme Court gave detainees access to courts, it did not provide them the legal basis to try to win their freedom.

And how dare the judge tell the administration it has stepped over the line. Bush must have absolute and complete power to do whatever he wants, wherever he wants, however he wants, while he plants the flag of freedom all over the globe.

A Justice Department (news - web sites) spokesman said they would appeal the ruling to protect the president's long-standing detention powers that "are critical to the ongoing war on terrorism." The spokesman said the department hoped to have a quick resolution.

Green's decision was a sharp, but courteous, rebuke of the government.

"Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats," she wrote, "that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years."

Oh yeah, and which presidents appointed these two jurists?

Green, named to the bench by President Carter, was assigned to sort out issues in claims filed in federal court in Washington on behalf of about 50 detainees. Olshansky said more petitions are being filed this week.

Leon, put on the bench by President Bush (news - web sites) three years ago, declined to have his cases coordinated with others. He concluded that foreign citizens captured and detained outside the United States have no rights under the Constitution or international law.

What do you know, the Bush appointee wants Bush to have absolute power, the Carter appointee sees the limits of executive power. Four more years of the chimp appointing judges. Very bad indeed.


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