Thursday, June 12, 2008


What the Supreme Court struck down today was quite literally a mockery of justice. Whatever else it was meant to accomplish, I think it was always meant to be precisely that, a mockery -- the administration not just detaining people without due process but rubbing their faces, and the faces of the liberals Bush and Cheney despise, in the injustice.

In upholding the right of habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees, the Court found that the "Combatant Status Review Tribunals" process ("CSRT") offered to Guantanamo detainees -- mandated by the John-McCain-sponsored Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 -- does not constitute a constitutionally adequate substitute for habeas corpus. To the contrary, the Court found that such procedures -- which have long been criticized as sham hearings due to the fact that defendants cannot have a lawyer present, government evidence is presumptively valid, and defendants are prevented from challenging (and sometimes even knowing about) much of the evidence against them -- "fall well short of the procedures and adversarial mechanisms that would eliminate the need for habeas corpus review."

It reminds me of a story I once heard of a literacy test given to a black voter in the Jim Crow South. He was handed a piece of paper and told that if he could read it, he was qualified to vote. Problem was, it was in Chinese. He said he couldn't read the body of the text, but he could he read the headline -- it said, This black man isn't going to get to vote today.

I try to imagine the smirking white men who thought it was great fun to toy with that black would-be voter. I imagine they felt the same smug, satisfying sense of enjoyment -- and the same belief that they were holding barbarism at bay -- that the administration felt in putting together the Combatant Status Review Tribunals process. The administration was saying, "You want an appeals process? I got your appeals process -- right here." But the Supreme Court just said, "Not so fast."

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