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the rule of law « Previous | |Next »
July 5, 2004

Justice has been blind in the war on terror:


The US exercises complete jurisdiction and control over the Guantanamo base and may continue to do so permanently if it chooses. Yet the Bush administration prevented the "indefinite" detainees from having access to the courts of the land. It argued that it could keep prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in a legal limbo, free of any access to normal United States law because US courts had no jurisdiction in Cuba. Guantanamo Bay is a legal black hole.

The Howard Government said that it was fine that the detainees (including Australian citizens ) in Guantanamo Bay...could not have access to the legal system. The Guantanamo Bay prison was well run (they had been reassured by the US administration that the prisoners were not subject to all kinds of physical torture and mental and sexual abuse) and that the military commission hearings were just.

Fortunately, things are changing. The rule of law has been re-affirmed.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay have a right to challenge their detentions in US courts. That means the Supreme Court has held that U.S. law applies even to Guantanamo Bay, a region that the Bush Administration had insisted was outside the jurisidiction of American justice. The imperial Presidency was trying to evade constitutional protections.

The US Supreme Court has delivered a major body blow to the Bush Administration's claims to unlimited, unchecked power. In another case it ruled that Congress has given the Bush Administration the power to hold American citizens indefinitely without charges or trial, but that the detainee has a right to challenge his detention (to show why he is not an enemy combatant) in court with the assistance of an attorney.

It is good to see the institutions of the republic take a small step to begin to challenge the new regime of empire.

The reality is that in the "war on terror" even though you are not a "terrorist," you may be detained, imprisoned, charged, arrested, and tried as one. That is being done in the name of liberty.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:38 AM | | Comments (0)