No Rights. Nuh-Uh

From Holden:

The Bush Assministration claims that individuals captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan are not POWs and therefore have no rights under the Geneva Conventions. So the Supreme Court said that the GITMO detainees do have the right to file habeus corpus appeals in US courts.

Lindsey “Tearjerker” Graham and a deluded Carl Levin sponsored a bill passed in December restricting the right of future appeals, and now the Bush Assministration is claiming the new law is retroactive.

The Bush administration took the unusual step yesterday of asking the Supreme Court to call off a landmark confrontation over the legality of military trials for terrorism suspects, arguing that a law enacted last month eliminates the court’s ability to consider the issue.

In a 23-page brief, U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement said the justices should throw out an appeal by Yemeni national Salim Hamdan, an alleged driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, because a new statute governing the treatment of U.S. detainees “removes the court’s jurisdiction to hear this action.”

The brief represents the latest escalation in the showdown between the Bush administration and critics of the government over the legal rights of military detainees captured overseas. Hamdan’s case is one of several high-stakes legal battles working their way through the courts, and the Supreme Court’s November decision to consider his appeal was a blow to the government.


Separately, the administration is trying to eliminate habeas corpus lawsuits filed on behalf of nearly every detainee, saying they have clogged federal courts with frivolous actions. The Supreme Court gave Guantanamo Bay detainees access to federal courts in a 2004 ruling.

The Detainee Treatment Act, principally written by Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and signed into law Dec. 30, is intended to prevent detainees from having access to U.S. courts except in specific circumstances.


The two lawmakers and their colleagues have disagreed sharply in recent days over whether the legislation is meant to apply to cases such as Hamdan’s that were filed before Bush signed the legislation into law.

Clement’s brief argues that the statute must be given “immediate effect” — meaning that previous legal challenges should be dismissed, and that Hamdan and other inmates should proceed under the new rules.

“Congress made clear that the federal courts no longer have jurisdiction over actions filed on behalf of Guantanamo detainees,” Clement wrote.

Levin, in a statement issued yesterday, said that “the Justice Department is in error. Far from deciding that the relevant statutory language applies to pending cases, Congress specifically considered and rejected language that would have stripped the courts of jurisdiction in cases that they had before them.”


Burt Neuborne, a New York University law professor who wrote a friend-of-the-court brief in the Hamdan case, said the government’s brief ignores the fact that if Hamdan’s case is dismissed, he and other detainees will have no avenue to challenge the legality of Bush’s power to detain enemy combatants and create military trials.

“The government’s basic argument is: You can’t hear it now, but you can hear it later,” Neuborne said. “What they don’t say is that the other route doesn’t let Hamdan raise the question of the president’s authority in these cases. . . . They’re not telling the Supreme Court the real consequences of their motion.”

And those military tribunals to which the Assministration would restrict the detainees? They’re hardly fair, are they.

Prosecutors outnumber defense lawyers 4-to-1 at military trials for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, the chief defense counsel said, arguing that his team needs more staff.

The U.S. prosecution team has 17 members compared to four military defense attorneys, said Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan after a hearing Thursday involving a Canadian teenager accused of killing a U.S. medic during fighting in Afghanistan.

“We have nine cases. So clearly we need more personnel resources,” Sullivan said. “Obviously there’s quite an imbalance between the prosecutor’s office and our office.”