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SCOTUS Grants Guantanamo Prisoners Habeas Corpus

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the prove-it dept.

United States 1065

beebee and other readers sent word that the US Supreme Court has, by a 5 to 4 majority, ruled that the Constitution applies at Guantanamo. Accused terrorists can now go to federal court to challenge their continued detention (the right to habeas corpus), meaning that civil judges will now have the power to check the government's designation of Gitmo detainees as enemy combatants. This should remedy one of the major issues Human Rights activists have with the detention center. However, Gitmo is unlikely to close any time soon. The NYTimes reporting on the SCOTUS decision goes into more detail on the vigor of the minority opinion. McClatchy reports the outrage the decision has caused on the right, with one senator calling for a Constitutional amendment "to blunt the effect of this decision."

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About time... (5, Insightful)

diewlasing (1126425) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779213)

Sudden outbreak of common sense?

Sudden? (4, Insightful)

AmazingRuss (555076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779283)

How long have those guys been rotting down there? 6 years?

Re:Sudden? (4, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779565)

"Sudden" means that the change took place quickly, not that it wasn't delayed.

Re:Sudden? (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779695)

How long have those guys been rotting down there? 6 years?

That seems to be a common lag for civil rights protections to kick in.

Re:Sudden? (4, Interesting)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779781)

FTA: "The court's ruling makes clear the legal rights given to al Qaida members today should exceed those provided to the Nazis during World War II," Graham said.
German POWs in WWII were treated very well by us as we followed the Geneva Convention almost to an extreme. They lived in large camps and weren't locked up in prison cells so long as they behaved.

Re:Sudden? (5, Funny)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779747)

woo-hoo, Those detainees are going to be partying like it's 1679.

Government has an easy fix (1)

Serenissima (1210562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779769)

Sure they've been there 6 years, but how long until the government just moves them to a different base where the laws aren't applicable? That way, we can keep them for another 6 years!

Re: Extend welfare and voting rights too! (0, Flamebait)

slas6654 (996022) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779317)

Grant contstitutional law to non-citizen, non-(resident aliens), enemy combatents. Sure, makes perfect sense to me.

Fantastic. Thanks Justice Kennedy. Why not extend US welfare and voting rights, too?

One thing is for sure, there will be on Guantanamos/Abu Graib's in the future. You might as well throw away the Geneva convention. too.

Re: Extend welfare and voting rights too! (5, Interesting)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779375)

There's a difference between citizen's rights (voting, welfare) and human rights which are universally applicable (free speech, etc). My personal belief is that not being imprisoned without just cause, and being able to challenge your imprisonment is in the latter set.

I'm at a loss as to how anyone can be upset at this decision. Its not like we're turning known terrorists out onto American streets. We're just saying that the people being detained have a right to challenge their detainment.

Re: Extend welfare and voting rights too! (4, Insightful)

jfsimard79 (1303437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779591)

Very well said. You MUST have a right to defend yourself. Else who is to say what you are charged with is made up.

Re: Extend welfare and voting rights too! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779783)

He sounds like a lawyer who wants to tap more government funds to defend the government's enemies, to me. Just saying...

Re: Extend welfare and voting rights too! (4, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779417)

The constitution isn't "granted" to non-citizens, it limits what the government can do to people. Which is a good thing, since then the government can't push the constitution aside by inventing new ways to revoke citizenships.

Re: Extend welfare and voting rights too! (1)

edheler (715806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779517)

The Constitution does refer to citizens and persons in different contexts. Thus you're saying that all of times "persons" are referenced really means "citizens." The founding fathers certainly were not haphazard with their wording.

Re: Extend welfare and voting rights too! (1, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779615)

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.
makes absolutely no mention of people OR citizenship, it just states that it cannot be suspended, except during rebellion or invasion.

Re: Extend welfare and voting rights too! (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779753)

It's been established for a helluva long time that the Constitution does apply to foreigners on American soil. The police are still bound by due process, even if the suspect is an Englishman or from North Korea. The Gitmo trick (and the unknown number of secret prisons) was to claim that the foreign detainees were not on American soil, so any Constitutional obligation was removed. SCOTUS has dispensed with that pathetic notion and finally stated that where there's smoke there's fire; in other words, if a detention center on foreign soil is still run by the United States, the detainees should have the same right to habeus corpus as if they were within US borders. This is a victory for liberty.

Re: Extend welfare and voting rights too! (5, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779631)

Actually, it's more than that. It isn't a restriction on an otherwise-unlimited government, it's a grant of powers to an otherwise-powerless government.

Re: Extend welfare and voting rights too! (2, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779513)

It's too bad, I guess, that the actual constitution isn't written in such a way as to "grant" rights; rather, it's written as a restriction on what the US Government can do. As the Government's charter, the Constitution applies to all actions of the federal government, regardless of where they are performed or who is involved.

Of course, the parts of the Constitution that talk about voting rights extend such rights only to citizens. That is a different part of the document.

Hardly an outbreak of common sense... (5, Insightful)

cutecub (136606) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779579)

A 5-4 decision means that the somewhat-sane members of the court outnumbered the completely-crazy members of the court by One Single Vote. We've got ourselves a Supreme Court that's divided on the meaning of some of the most fundamental aspects American law. This doesn't bode well for the next 30 years.

-Sean

Re:Hardly an outbreak of common sense... (5, Insightful)

terrymr (316118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779709)

Quite ... I was absolutely stunned by the statement of Scalia that "The saddest part" was that the government would have to prove the need to hold each and every person. Has this guy even read the constitution he's sworn to uphold ??

Re:Hardly an outbreak of common sense... (-1)

squidguy (846256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779749)

A 5-4 decision means that the somewhat-sane members of the court outnumbered the completely-crazy members of the court by One Single Vote

Maybe I'm a luddite, but how is this modded insightful? Seems more like flamebait (or maybe rate as funny)...

Re:About time... (1, Funny)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779717)

woo-hoo I bet those detainees are going to party like it's 1679.

How's that for.... (3, Insightful)

Boetsj (1247700) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779235)

... a sudden outbreak of common sense? Hard to believe that such a fundamental wrongdoing only gets overturned by a 5 to 4 decision though -- the drawback of politicized appointees I suppose.

Re:How's that for.... (2, Interesting)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779365)

I'm pretty disappointed as well... also, the NYT's quotes from Scalia's opinion make him sound like a complete raving moron. How does a supposedly well-educated man say things as mind-numbingly stupid as "OMG DIS IS GUNNA KILL AMERICANS!!!11"? At least Roberts' opinion was somewhat reasonable, even if I do disagree.

Agreed (3, Informative)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779549)

Hard to believe that such a fundamental wrongdoing only gets overturned by a 5 to 4 decision though

That's the horrendously sad part of this ruling. Reminds me of an interview I saw with Scalia saying something about whether torture in questioning a subject could actually be considered "punishment" and hence exempt from the cruel and unusual standard.

I'm sorry, I don't care how engaging he is personally, his beliefs undermine the Constitution and separation of powers. All four of them threaten the very ideals that formerly made America the envy of the world.

Re:Agreed (5, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779621)

I remember that convoluted nonsense and so here, for everyone's viewing pleasure, are the words straight from the (literally) horses mouth:


Scalia's comments [thinkprogress.org]

Re:Agreed (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779773)

That's the horrendously sad part of this ruling. Reminds me of an interview I saw with Scalia saying something about whether torture in questioning a subject could actually be considered "punishment" and hence exempt from the cruel and unusual standard.

Haha, oh that's rich. Hey, we should pass a law that lets prison guards torture the prisoners, under the stipulation that torture not be used for punishment, but only for the guard's amusement!

That'd be Constitutional, right Scalia?

Or hey, why not just legalize prison rape? That's not about punishment, after all, but dominance. Perfectly Constitutional!

Ironic.. (0, Troll)

FataL187 (1100851) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779237)

Strange how the U.S. Soldiers have fewer rights then the terrorists we are fighting.

Re:Ironic.. (1, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779261)

There's nothing wrong with that. They voluntarily signed those rights away when they became soldiers.

Re:Ironic.. (1)

DefenderThree (920248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779553)

Since when can you nullify human rights by signing a contract? I thought the point of "inalienable rights" was to transcend all that?

Re:Ironic.. (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779721)

Since always, but that's just my opinion. "Inalienable" means inalienable by others, not by yourself. If I want to sign myself into slavery (under no duress), that's my prerogative. I can't sign my descendents into slavery, because they have rights I can't take away. I can't press my neighbor into slavery because he has rights I can't take away.

Put another way: "inalienable" means no one can take those rights away. It doesn't say you can't give the rights away freely.

Re:Ironic.. (-1, Troll)

SylvesterTheCat (321686) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779609)

Does that make them stupid or are you a coward?

Re:Ironic.. (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779651)

and are you sure they are soldiers? maybe they were just sympathetic and got packed away in the dead of night. Of course you'd never know, since utile now they were held with no reason given.

Re:Ironic.. (3, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779459)

FTFA:

"The court's ruling makes clear the legal rights given to al Qaida members today should exceed those provided to the Nazis during World War II," Graham said. "Our nation is at war. It's truly unfortunate the Supreme Court did not recognize and appreciate that fact."

Of course, in WWII, Congress had declared war. The rules may be different in times of war, but, fortunately, our legal system does not recognize laws against concepts/behaviors/tactics.

Strange how the U.S. Soldiers have fewer rights then the terrorists we are fighting.

Is that a "totalitarianism in the US" post; if so, this ruling is great for returning to a rule of law. Is that a "why are soldiers forced to go far away and die" post; if so, because that's what soldiers agree can happen, and the political will of the country, rightly or wrongly, sent them to fight. Is that a "terrorists deserve no rights, scumbags" post; if so, I would point out that these are accused terrorists. There have been failures in identifying them. Just like an innocent man going to jail is bad both for that man, and also because a criminal remains on the streets, locking up phoney terrorists gives us a misleading view of the world. Plus, who knows what the standard of proof is.

Re:Ironic.. (4, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779465)

We don't know the people in Gitmo are terrorists, as no charges against them have been presented, and no evidence has been put before a judge. Go back to watching Fox.

Bash... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779259)

Bash Bush in 3...2...1...
Never mind that silly thing about being a citizen BEFORE you get constitutional rights.
Oh, blame global warming also, it's the universal excuse pairing.

read the constitution (4, Insightful)

Paolone (939023) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779451)

Sorry, you don't need to be a citizen to get constitutional rights. you just need to "be there". The constitution then grants more rights to the citenship, like to elect representative and so on.

Where's "there"? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779691)

The problem, in this case, is the definition of "there".

The administration was trying to play funny games with the semantics. If they were held in the US, they'd certainly be "there". If they were held in Afghanistan, they'd be granted access to the Afghan courts, at least under whatever agreement we had with them. (We're trying to negotiate that same kind of agreement in Iraq right now, and they're balking.)

So... they took them to Guantanamo, where we have a weird perpetual lease where the Cuban law doesn't apply either. The administration thought it found a chunk of the planet where no rules whatsoever applied but was under our control.

The Court here is saying that that's rubbish, and I agree with them.

I wonder if they can move them to a battleship somewhere in international waters, and see if that counts. Probably that's already been settled, or they'd have tried it already.

5 to 4? I'm torn. (2, Interesting)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779269)

I'm torn on this.

I'm glad that this went through. I think it's the right thing to do.

I'm concerned that it went through on 5-4. Then again, I feel somewhat content that we do have some varying opinions within SCOTUS. I suppose I'd rather we have conflicting opinions for the advancement of discussion than 9 Justices all working towards the same agenda.

Re:5 to 4? I'm torn. (4, Informative)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779527)

They left off that in Scalia's dissenting opinion he said things like:

"The game of bait-and-switch that todayâ(TM)s opinion plays upon the Nationâ(TM)s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."

"Today the Court warps our Constitution."

"The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today."

PDF [scotusblog.com]

Re:5 to 4? I'm torn. (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779543)

I'm concerned that it went through on 5-4.

That does concern me as well. However, at least the majority was said to be strongly worded: "Liberty and security can be reconciled"

stupid, confusing war on terror... (5, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779285)

Ok -- so we capture people on the battle field in Afghanistan and take them prisoner. Bush &co. don't want to classify them as "prisoners of war," because then they'd get Geneva Convention protection.

So, reaching back to FDR, they pull this "enemy combatant" thing out of their ass and say that now they can do whatever they want. Now, the Supreme Court is saying that "enemy combatants" are somehow criminals who are entitled to the protections of the civilian legal system.

If they were just reclassified as POWs, then they could be held until the war is over -- which, like the war on drugs, it never will be. So, they could be held forever, without any need for a trial - because you can't be tried for "murder" or "conspiring to murder Americans" if you are a soldier in time of war.

But yet, Bush &co still aren't going to want to reclassify them as POWs.

Jeebus. I seriously can't wait to get a new administration that will just settle on what the status of these prisoners is so that we don't have to hear about this crap anymore. Want to keep them forever? Call them POWs. Want to try them to make some sort of b.s. point like Nuremberg? Then they get the protection of a court system.

I'm really not seeing how they can have it both ways, but then again I'm not a lawyer -- just a human (usually an exclusive option).

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (5, Interesting)

edheler (715806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779437)

Is it possible to have POW's without a congressionally declared war?

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779535)

Well, then I guess John McCain wasn't really a "prisoner of war." There goes his entire campaign platform! My great uncle did 3 years in a Chinese prison camp during the Korean war. You ought to listen to some of his stories before you start trying to draw legal distinctions, as if they'd mean anything.

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (0, Troll)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779657)

I think you missed the point of that question. he is asking if we, the US, can take a POW without declaring a traditional war. nobody said vietnam POW's aren't POW's. Damn, read and breath before replying.

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (1)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779735)

Legal distinctions are important. Politicians use our reluctance to hold the line on the Constitution to proceed down the slippery slope of increased power at our expense. Keep in mind that today we use those enhanced "powers" against accused terrorists, tomorrow it might be against those who speak out against the government.

We don't have a declared war. We have an administration that plays fast and loose with executive power, and a Congress which is largely complicit. We see daily blatant violations of the Constitution - such as wiretapping, holding people without due process, etc. - yet remain largely ambivalent as if it isn't our problem. But it *is* our problem, one which *will* come back and bite us in the ass hard.

I'm sorry your great uncle spent three years in a Chinese prison camp, and I'm sorry John McCain was tortured. But they were out there to defend the Constitution which forms the fabric of our society. Wouldn't it be a spit in their faces to say that we can now just ignore that same document because it is politically convenient? Remember, our soldiers aren't out there dying simply to preserve our land or our property. They are out there defending our way of life. Don't throw that away over a few accused terrorists.

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (2, Insightful)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779625)

Yes. The Geneva Convention allows for a loose militia to be formed upon invasion from an outside force.

They can skirt the 'uniform and rank insignia' rule that way - but it would only apply to Afghans that lived there prior to NATO invasion. They would then have POW status under the GC's, and would NOT be subject to torture. 3 Squares and a cot would be what they get for the duration of the 'war'.

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (4, Insightful)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779479)

I'd be fine with calling them POWs if we actually declared a war. Congress authorized the use of our military in Afghanistan and Iraq but we are not technically at war with anyone, and thus there's no way of knowing when the "war" ends. I vehemently oppose the idea that we should imprison people as war prisoners when there is no way of knowing when that war is over (and thus forcing us to imprison them indefinitely).

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779563)

I agree with you in principle, however it's a little late for that distinction now. This is the way we can expect to get into "wars" from now, as much as that sucks.

also see my response above to "edheler."

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (3, Insightful)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779659)

I was speaking out of principle. In practice, yes we need to treat them as POWs after we prove that they are, indeed, POWs. Some of the guys in there are there because they were caught firing on US soldiers, which is a legitimate reason to hold someone. Some of them are there because of dubious reasons. Its hard to tell why because they don't have the right to challenge their detainment, and they haven't had a trial.

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779581)

Not at war with anyone? Remove head from Uranus. The rest of the world is at war with you even your allies because WE FUCKING HATE YOU.

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779539)

How many of them were wearing uniforms?

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (2, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779599)

How many IRA folk were wearing uniforms? How many Americans were wearing uniforms in the early skirmishes against the British?

All that is required is some sort of command structure and something they use to identify themselves (Hamas has the green bandana things) and then they're a "militia"

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779761)

All that is required is some sort of command structure and something they use to identify themselves (Hamas has the green bandana things) and then they're a "militia"

I think that the original poster didn't mean "uniforms" as in full uniforms, but "uniforms" as in Hamas's green bandana things.

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (5, Informative)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779623)

The Bush Administration's definition of "enemy combatant" was based on Ex Parte Quirin, which dealt with the German sabeteurs who landed on Long Island, New York [damninteresting.com] during World War II. The Quirin case underscores why we need courts even for enemy combatants.

You see, George John Dasch was one of the enemy sabeteurs, but he actually hated the Nazis. He took this to be a chance to defect to the US. Ernst Peter Burger, another one of the sabeteuers, was like-minded. The two of them tried very hard to turn themselves in, but were stopped by an unbelieving FBI. Dasch was only able to turn himself in when he threw $84,000 in mission funds onto the desk of a FBI agent. Under interrogation, he revealed the whole Nazi plan.

But the FBI claimed it was their great work that lead to the capture of the Germans. All the Germans were placed on trial before a military tribunal. The original verdict was a recommendation of death, even for the man who turned the group in. Burger's sentence was commutted to life, and Dasch was sentenced to 30 years in prison. It was only after W.W.II ended that the truth came out, and they were released and deported to Germany.

Without trial, the truth will never go out. As a democratic society, we have to dedicate ourselves to protect civil rights for all.

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779663)

A lot of them were not "captured on the battlefield." They were turned in by locals, in return for large rewards - and the opportunity to take over their land, etc.

Many in gitmo are known to be completely uninvolved - for example, the Uyghurs: the US government is desperately seeking somewhere that will take them in. They were just "captured" because their neighbours wanted them out of the way.

Re:stupid, confusing war on terror... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779745)

They should have just been shot in the first place.

At least one prisoner who had been released ended up shooting at our guys again.

Whoa what happened (2, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779293)

The system worked?

The names of the dissenting Supreme Court Justices and those nimrods that are outraged should be posted everywhere so that more pressure can be brought to bear on these idiots that it is not ok to lock people up with no legal recourse no matter what country it is.

Re:Whoa what happened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779367)

The names of the dissenting justices is in the article I submitted yesterday morning.......

Re: dissenting judges (1)

SEAL (88488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779467)

It's not hard to assess which judges disagreed with the ruling. Scalia and Thomas, who haven't taken a non-conservative stance in their entire existence on the court, and Bush's new nominees Alito and Roberts. What a surprise.

Re:Whoa what happened (1)

Mr. Arbusto (300950) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779493)

The system worked? Isn't this decision scary? Doesn't it grant precedence to Federal Law and Jurisdiction to extend beyond the borders of the United States?

Re:Whoa what happened (1)

altinos.com (919185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779687)

It grants precedence to how our military should conduct itself.

Re:Whoa what happened (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779711)

That was my thought as well. I had always thought that the entire *reason* Gitmo existed was because it was outside our country and therefore beyond our laws. IANAL though so...

Re:Whoa what happened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779751)

Not really. Say it with me: Gitmo is US territory. You think the Cubans want us there?

Pressure? (4, Insightful)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779497)

I agree with the majority decision, but I don't agree about "more pressure brought to bear" on the dissenting justices. The reason that Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life is precisely so that (in theory) nobody can pressure them to vote one way or another.

Re:Whoa what happened (2, Informative)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779559)

I guess so...eventually. Now for the guys who've been locked up for the past 6 years without charge, that might seem like a long time. Now, about those ships? [guardian.co.uk] .

They will resist (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779301)

The Bush admin will resist this in other ways; admitting that they were wrong and changing their ways is not in the character of the president or his toadies.

That's really nice (1, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779313)

Now all the US needs to do is apply the Geneva conventions to the Gitmo prisoners, give them a speedy trials (not that it would make a difference after that many years without indictment in the pokey) and generally treat them more like human beings than animals, then it would start to look more like a country driven by the rule of law.

Re:That's really nice (5, Insightful)

Paranatural (661514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779511)

People often misquote Winston Churchill as having said that we can judge the level of civilisation in a society by the way it treats its prisoners. In fact, it was Fyodor Dostoyevsky who said: "The degree of civilisation in a society is revealed by entering its prisons." Winston Churchill actually said that a society's attitude to its prisoners, its "criminals", is the measure of "the stored up strength of a nation".
Seems to me that there are elements in this country who want to make sure that the terrible allegations the terrorists make against us become, and stay, true. And there are people who remember one of the reasons this country was founded, to be able to have fair trials.

We cannot allow ourselves to become the things and people we hate. We cannot become a nation that approves of torture, approves of lawless legal system, a nation that will treat others, no matter how heinous, as they would treat us.

We cannot hope to be a beacon of light in a dark sea by covering ourselves in the same darkness. Either you do the moral thing, or the immoral thing. There is a battle in this country, between those who would have us give up our morality for naught, and those who stand against them.

Re:That's really nice (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779723)

No. If the prisoners were PoWs then the Geneva conventions would apply by habeas corpus wouldn't. What the US needs to do is to treat them as it would any other civilian suspect, charge and (fairly) try them or release them, and pay compensation for illegal imprisonment.

Wow, its really nice to see things like this. (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779315)

This has made my day that much better. Its nice to be able to hope that things will get better.

categories, please (-1, Offtopic)

syrinx (106469) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779325)

Way to not file this under "Politics". There's a reason I have that section hidden. Slashdot has categories; use them correctly, please.

Re:categories, please (1)

Boetsj (1247700) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779409)

Actually it should *not* be in Politics because of the Trias Politica [wikipedia.org]

Re:categories, please (1)

XorNand (517466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779501)

I think you inadvertently bring up the biggest problem about this whole debacle: that so many people feel that this issue is a matter of politics.

More good reading on the decision (5, Informative)

jamie (78724) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779353)

Recommended reading that didn't make it into this story's writeup:

Glenn Greenwald, Supreme Court restores habeas corpus [salon.com] :

In a major rebuke to the Bush administration's theories of presidential power -- and in an equally stinging rebuke to the bipartisan political class which has supported the Bush detention policies -- the U.S. Supreme Court today, in a 5-4 decision (.pdf), declared Section 7 of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 unconstitutional. The Court struck down that section of the MCA because it purported to abolish the writ of habeas corpus...

Glenn Greenwald, Conservative vs. authoritarianism [salon.com] :

To our country's pseudo-tough-guy "conservatives," the very idea of merely requiring the Government to prove the guilt of the people it wants to imprison for life or execute is so intolerable, so offensive, that they want instead to release them all -- including detainees who are indisputably innocent -- onto a battlefield so that they can be slaughtered by our planes with no trial at all. [...]

The question I put to him again and again was one that he simply couldn't answer: how and why would any American object to the mere requirement that our Government prove that someone is guilty before we imprison them indefinitely or execute them?

The decision itself [scotusblog.com] , with my favorite passage being:

Yet the Government's view is that the Constitution had no effect there [at Guantanamo], at least as to noncitizens, because the United States disclaimed sovereignty in the formal sense of the term. The necessary implication of the argument is that by surrendering formal sovereignty over any unincorporated territory to a third party, while at the same time entering into a lease that grants total control over the territory back to the United States, it would be possible for the political branches to govern without legal constraint.

Our basic charter cannot be contracted away like this. The Constitution grants Congress and the President the power to acquire, dispose of, and govern territory, not the power to decide when and where its terms apply. Even when the United States acts outside its borders, its powers are not "absolute and unlimited" but are subject "to such restrictions as are expressed in the Constitution." Murphy v. Ramsey, 114 U. S. 15, 44 (1885). Abstaining from questions involving formal sovereignty and territorial governance is one thing. To hold the political branches have the power to switch the Constitution on or off at will is quite another. The former position reflects this Court's recognition that certain matters requiring political judgments are best left to the political branches. The latter would permit a striking anomaly in our tripartite system of government, leading to a regime in which Congress and the President, not this Court, say "what the law is." Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803).

In that passage, the Court upbraids the Bush administration, which sought this unconstitutional law and argued to uphold it, for claiming that the President has the right to "switch the Constitution on or off at will." The Court is absolutely correct about this, there is no doubt that this is what our current President has attempted. And the Court is correct that this is an attempt to circumvent the system of separation of powers that is at the heart of the "basic charter" on which the United States was founded.

The fact that this decision was a slim 5-4 majority, with this President's two appointees making up half the dissenting view, is a frightening thought.

Re:More good reading on the decision (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779645)

So then a Constitutional amendment needs to be passed, clearly stating the Constitutional protections are not extended to non-citizens.

That won't change this decision, but will effectively prevent any future activist judges--including those who may be present in the US Supreme Court--from interpreting Constitutional protections for non-citizens.

Your First Premise (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779361)


is wrong. The judicial and legislative branches of the U.S. federal government have been merged into the The White House [whitehouse.org] .

Remember, you have NO rights. This is the United Gulags of America.

Cordially,
Kilgore Trout

P.S.: Fuck Bush

One can only pity the cowards... (5, Insightful)

Arrogant-Bastard (141720) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779369)

...who are calling for a Constitutional amendment to bypass this decision. It's clear that their grasp of the fundamental human rights which pre-date and transcend even the Constitution's sweeping reach is limited, and that in their mindless fear, they've lost sight of why those rights are critically important. They have failed to live up to their sworn oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States -- and yet they have the audacity to wrap themselves in the flag and call themselves "patriots".

They're the farthest thing from it. Real patriots understand why we must defend these rights, even at the cost of our lives -- because without them, we aren't the United States of America; we're just another transient tinpot dictatorship of no value and no lasting importance.

5-4 Majority (5, Insightful)

opusbuddy (164089) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779393)

What bothers me is that 4 Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States voted to suspend Habeas Corpus.

Sometimes you wonder (5, Interesting)

shma (863063) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779407)

I just wanted to call attention to a quote from one of the dissenting judges:

Of the two dissenting opinions, Justice Antonin Scalia's was the more apocalyptic, predicting "devastating" and "disastrous consequences" from the decision. "It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed," he said. "The nation will live to regret what the court has done today."
Keep in mind that he's talking about allowing people who have been held in detention for 6 years without even having been charged (let alone convicted) to challenge their detention. So explain to me how a man who doesn't even understand the concept of presumption of innocence is allowed to sit on the supreme court.

Re:Sometimes you wonder (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779523)

What should be passed is a disembarment procedure for Supreme court justices who can't fathom the idea of law.

Re:Sometimes you wonder (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779699)

The nation will live

Thanks Scalia, for a moment there I thought we were going to lose her entirely!

Re:Sometimes you wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779731)

Because these people aren't criminals, they're enemy combatants who are not fighting under a flag. Gitmo isn't about criminal justice, it's about war.

Isn't this the same SCOTUS that Bush packed? (1)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779427)

This is great news, but I'm really surprised given how the Dems have been crying foul for the last 8 years on packing the Supreme Court.

Re:Isn't this the same SCOTUS that Bush packed? (4, Insightful)

Free_Meson (706323) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779765)

but I'm really surprised given how the Dems have been crying foul for the last 8 years on packing the Supreme Court.
It was a 5-4 decision. That four Justices thought that the executive branch could act outside of its constitutional authority whenever it felt like it should be pretty alarming.

Although on life support (1)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779429)

The Constitution still lives! The tide is turning, and the future looks like we may get on track again. Our Constitution is the single most important part of what makes America the greatest nation on Earth.

P.S. Scalia absolutely disgusts me.

Re:Although on life support (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779619)

Yeah... don't count on it staying that way. There are already clowns calling for a constitutional amendment. Incredible how quickly an amendment is called for so that we can hold people indefinitely and treat them in any manner the gov't sees fit.

Re:Although on life support (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779661)

> what makes America the greatest nation on Earth

Apart from the nukes

Change the Constitution (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779481)

So now Bush can either change the Constitution to make what he is doing legal or to give him the power to remove a supreme court judge. Actually the latter is probably better since it means that you only ever need to do one amendment.

Time lag (5, Insightful)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779509)

So it takes approximately 7 years between blatently unconstitutional actions by one branch to be reviewed and overturned by another branch.

Fortunately for Congress and the President, they can pass new laws and executive orders on time scales shorter than 7 years.

In between lies the downfall of democracy.

Finally... (4, Insightful)

mandie (69148) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779531)

The SCOTUS just said, "Fine, you don't want to call them POWs, so now you have to go with the rules we use for people accused of crimes. Your choice, but you must choose one."

For everyone who makes fun of trying suspected terrorists in "ordinary" criminal courts, if it's sufficient for bringing murderers with less grandiose motives to justice, it'll do for ones who think they're doing it for some great cause. Heck, it's possibly more insulting to treat them like common criminals, if that's what makes you happy.

It's a great day to be an American.

Hear the argument for yourself... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779545)

It's here [video1c-sp...507oral2rm] .

What's the problem? (1)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779573)

If these guys are guilty of anything, who not prove it in a fair hearing?

Re:What's the problem? (1)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779673)

s/who/why/

Law enforcement (3, Insightful)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779575)

I think one of the biggest issues here is that the US military wanted to act like a law enforcement agency. In the case of POWs, you do not execute them or imprison them indefinitely, because they are not guilty of anything. However, these cases cannot be tried in the civilian system, since due process has been violated in every conceivable way with these detainees, so the charges would likely be tossed immediately. Since neither was acceptable, the US Military opted for a third way, and that is unacceptable according to SCOTUS.

We've only had habeas corpus since the 12th C. (5, Interesting)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779601)


These fundamental freedoms are MORE important, not LESS important, during times of national stress. It is those times when cowards like Bush are most prepared to sell our freedom, so hard-won over the centuries, for the promise of a little temporary security.

Guantanamo is Bush's Manzanar. In the hysteria of the time it might have seemed like the right thing to do, to a few frightened people. The judgment of history will be firmly otherwise.

do a reverse mariel boatlift (2, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779605)

cuba dumped some of its prisoners on the usa during the mariel boatlift in the early 1980s (not all of the refugees were prisoners)

simply cede guantanamo bay back to cuba. "forget" to empty guantanamo bay out first. voila, new, "friendly" landlords

Chief Justice Roberts : Doesn't get it (3, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779613)

The public will "lose a bit more control over the conduct of this nation's foreign policy to unelected, politically unaccountable judges," he added.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, aren't Judges supposed to be insulated and protected from the political system by (1) not being held accountable for untainted, but bad, decisions (2) not be part of the election process since that would mean that they would then rule in whatever way would best protect their jobs?

How in the WORLD would a chief justice of the supreme court not understand that?

A Horrible Decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779637)

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy isn't known for his judicial modesty. But for sheer willfulness, yesterday's 5-4 majority opinion in Boumediene v. Bush may earn him a historic place among the likes of Harry Blackmun. In a stroke, he and four other unelected Justices have declared their war-making supremacy over both Congress and the White House.
[Anthony Kennedy]

Boumediene concerns habeas corpus â" the right of Americans to challenge detention by the government. Justice Kennedy has now extended that right to non-American enemy combatants captured abroad trying to kill Americans in the war on terror. We can say with confident horror that more Americans are likely to die as a result.

An Algerian native, Lakhdar Boumediene was detained by U.S. troops in Bosnia in January 2002 and is currently held at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. military heard the case for Boumediene's detention in 2004, and in the years since he has never appealed the finding that he is an enemy combatant, although he could under federal law. Instead, his lawyers asserted his "right" â" as an alien held outside the United States â" to a habeas hearing before a U.S. federal judge.

Justice Kennedy's opinion is remarkable in its sweeping disregard for the decisions of both political branches. In a pair of 2006 laws â" the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act â" Congress and the President had worked out painstaking and good-faith rules for handling enemy combatants during wartime. These rules came in response to previous Supreme Court decisions demanding such procedural care, and they are the most extensive ever granted to prisoners of war.

Yet as Justice Antonin Scalia notes in dissent, "Turns out" the same Justices "were just kidding." Mr. Kennedy now deems those efforts inadequate, based on only the most cursory analysis. As Chief Justice John Roberts makes clear in his dissent, the majority seems to dislike these procedures merely because a judge did not sanctify them. In their place, Justice Kennedy decrees that district court judges should derive their own ad hoc standards for judging habeas petitions. Make it up as you go!

Justice Kennedy declines even to consider what those standards should be, or how they would protect national security over classified information or the sources and methods that led to the detentions. Eventually, as the lower courts work their will amid endless litigation, perhaps President Kennedy will vouchsafe more details in some future case. In the meantime, the likelihood grows that our soldiers will prematurely release combatants who will kill more Americans.

To reach yesterday's decision, Justice Kennedy also had to dissemble about Justice Robert Jackson's famous 1950 decision in Johnson v. Eisentrager. In that case, German nationals had been tried and convicted by military commissions for providing aid to the Japanese after Germany's surrender in World War II. Justice Jackson ruled that non-Americans held in a prison in the American occupation zone in Germany did not warrant habeas corpus. But rather than overrule Eisentrager, Mr. Kennedy misinterprets it to pretend that it was based on mere "procedural" concerns. This is plainly dishonest.

By the logic of Boumediene, members of al Qaeda will now be able to challenge their status in court in a way that uniformed military officers of a legitimate army cannot. And Justice Scalia points out that this was not a right afforded even to the 400,000 prisoners of war detained on American soil during World War II. It is difficult to understand why any terrorist held anywhere in the world â" whether at Camp Cropper in Iraq or Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan â" won't now have the same right to have their appeals heard in an American court.

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution contains the so-called Suspension Clause, which says: "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." Justice Kennedy makes much of the fact that we are not currently under "invasion or rebellion." But he ignores that these exceptions don't include war abroad because the Framers never contemplated that a non-citizen, captured overseas and held outside the U.S., could claim the same right.

Justice Kennedy's opinion is full of self-applause about his defense of the "great Writ," and no doubt it will be widely praised as a triumph for civil liberties. But we hope it is not a tragedy for civil liberties in the long run. If there is another attack on U.S. soil â" perhaps one enabled by a terrorist released under the Kennedy rules â" the public demand for security will trample the Constitutional delicacies of Boumediene. Just last month, a former Gitmo detainee killed a group of Iraqi soldiers when he blew himself up in Mosul. And he was someone the military thought it was safe to release.

Justice Jackson once famously observed that the Constitution is "not a suicide pact." About Anthony Kennedy's Constitution, we're not so sure.

Hudson Institute outright lying on Constitution (4, Insightful)

rbrander (73222) | more than 6 years ago | (#23779725)

I'm still shaking my head in disgust over a "warring talking heads" commentary on Canada's CTV network last night on this one. On the left, a Canadian professor who'd taught at Harvard. For the right, some guy I regret not catching the name of, from the conservative Hudson Institute. If it weren't the umpteenth time I'd seen it, I'd call it a classic example of the kind of brazen lying I've come to expect of these "think tanks".

I'll skip details on the other ways the guy embarrassed himself to any thinking audience - he tried maligning the Canadian's credentials at American law until the guy mentioned teaching at Harvard, for instance.

But towards the end, he actually said that the American constitution provides an exception to "for the Executive to suspend Habeas Corpus in time of WAR or insurrection" (emphasis mine). It doesn't. And there's no way a professional at that level made that big a mistake.

The framers chose all their words carefully, and it says:

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html [usconstitution.net]

Section 9 - Limits on Congress

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

INVASION, not War. What do Invasion and Rebellion have in common? Only then do you have entire armies on American soil harming its public. Only when you'd have to give whole armies habeas corpus can you suspend it. If you have few enough enemies to manage with a court system, they all get the court system.

I guess I'm steamed because it was just the night before I learned the stat that not only did 70% of Americans at one point believe Saddam personally set up 9/11, but 80% of those supporting the Iraw war did so because of that belief. Which means that terrible damage can be done to America, not to mention hundreds of thousands of innocents, by lies such as the one I heard, espoused on TV, last night.

I leave it to the Americans on /. to decide what you'd call a guy who'd lie about the content of your constitution to encourage and support the breaking of it.

Oh, yeah, and one other part of the lie, one in support of their endless reaching for Executive power: the exception to habeas corpus is for the CONGRESS, not the Executive. The Executive can't suspend it at ALL, not unless Congress passes a law allowing it. The Executive simply can't break the law, period. Not under the Constitution.

If you can keep it.

SCOTUS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23779727)

That acronym bothers me; whenever i see it i think of "scrotum."

Then again, that's what i think of when i see our president anyway, so i guess it works.
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