When the Supreme Court issued their decision yesterday on the “kangaroo-court tribunals” at Guantanamo Bay, they “asked him the obvious question: What part of “rule of law” do you not understand?”
But, but, “I’m the decider,” insists George W. Bush. Not so fast there, Dubya… “Congress has not issued the Executive a ‘blank check,’ ” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his Supreme Court opinion yesterday. Eugene Robinson asks in the WaPo today, “Has anyone broken the news to poor Dick Cheney?”
Perhaps the greatest impact of the 185-page ruling is that it rejects Bush’s claim that the necessity of waging the “global war on terror” gives him extraordinary powers that lie beyond the jurisdiction of the courts. The ruling reminds him of “the court’s duty, in both peace and war, to preserve the constitutional safeguards of civil liberty.”
When Bush gets time to “fully review” the ruling — yesterday he was occupied with the Japanese prime minister and had only a “drive-by briefing” on the decision — the above sentence would be a good place to start. He has been told that he is still a president, not an emperor.
The court also made an important statement about America’s duty to international law. The majority opinion finds that the military tribunals, as structured by the administration, violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice “and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949.” In other words, the Decider was wrong when he decided the Geneva Conventions didn’t have to be taken into account for suspected al-Qaeda detainees. He was wrong when he asserted that the United States did not have to respect international agreements it has sworn to obey.
Does that also apply to torture? To “extraordinary rendition”? To secret CIA prisons?
Rosa Brooks questions today in the LA Times, “Did Bush commit war crimes?”
…the real blockbuster in the Hamdan decision is the court’s holding that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention applies to the conflict with Al Qaeda — a holding that makes high-ranking Bush administration officials potentially subject to prosecution under the federal War Crimes Act.
Brooks goes on to say, “Under federal criminal law, anyone who “commits a war crime … shall be fined … or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.””
And a war crime is defined as “any conduct … which constitutes a violation of Common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva.” In other words, with the Hamdan decision, U.S. officials found to be responsible for subjecting war on terror detainees to torture, cruel treatment or other “outrages upon personal dignity” could face prison or even the death penalty.
Don’t expect that to happen anytime soon, of course. For prosecutions to occur, some federal prosecutor would have to issue an indictment. And in the Justice Department of Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales — who famously called the Geneva Convention “quaint” — a genuine investigation into administration violations of the War Crimes Act just ain’t gonna happen.
If there will ever be accountability for this administration out of control, it will be under a Democratic majority in the Congress. The apologists who still think that Bush is the decider, will continue to support Bush’s empirical push for power and the MSM will continue to publish crap like this from those apologists.