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Author Topic: Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!  (Read 1080 times)

Alamo

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Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!
« on: June 29, 2006, 10:53:20 AM »
Ha - couldn't do much about this one, could ya John Roberts?   :P

Supreme Court Rejects Guantanamo War Crimes Trials
In 5-3 Decision Justices Rebuke Bush, Ruling Commissions Are Unconstitutional

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 29, 2006; 10:44 AM

The Supreme Court today delivered a stunning rebuke to the Bush administration over its plans to try Guantanamo detainees before military commissions, ruling that the commissions are unconstitutional.

In a 5-3 decision, the court said the trials were not authorized under U.S. law or the Geneva Conventions. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion in the case, called Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. recused himself from the case.
   
The ruling, which overturned a federal appeals court decision in which Roberts had participated, represented a defeat for President Bush, who had ordered military trials for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. About 450 detainees captured in the war on terrorism are currently held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

The case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a 36-year-old Yemeni with links to al-Qaeda, was considered a key test of the judiciary's power during wartime and carried the potential to make a lasting impact on American law. It challenged the very legality of the military commissions established by President Bush to try terrorism suspects.

The case raised core constitutional principles of separation of powers as well as fundamental issues of individual rights. Specifically, the questions concerned:

-The power of Congress and the executive to strip the federal courts and the Supreme Court of jurisdiction.

-The authority of the executive to lock up individuals under claims of wartime power, without benefit of traditional protections such as a jury trial, the right to cross-examine one's accusers and the right to judicial appeal.

-The applicability of international treaties -- specifically the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war -- to the government's treatment of those it deems "enemy combatants."

Hamdan was captured by Afghan militiamen in late November 2001 after the radical Islamic Taliban movement was driven from power in Afghanistan by U.S.-backed Afghan forces. He was subsequently turned over to U.S. authorities, who sent him to the U.S. detention facility at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba in 2002.

He acknowledged that he had worked as a bodyguard and driver for Osama bin Laden, whom he met in Afghanistan in 1996. But he denied having any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks carried out by bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

On Nov. 13, 2001 -- the day the Afghan capital, Kabul, fell to U.S.-backed forces after five years of Taliban rule -- President Bush issued Military Order No. 1 declaring that military commissions would try foreign terrorist suspects for alleged war crimes and sentence them to punishments including death. The administration argued that the commissions were authorized by laws on military justice, by a congressional resolution passed on Sept. 14, 2001, and by the powers vested in the president as commander in chief under the U.S. Constitution.

Hamdan later became one of the first 10 detainees at Guantanamo chosen to face military trials. He was charged in July 2004 with conspiracy to commit terrorism and war crimes while serving as a weapons courier and driver for bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda members. If convicted, he faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Military prosecutors alleged that Hamdan delivered arms, ammunition and other supplies to al-Qaeda fighters, picked up weapons at Taliban warehouses and drove or accompanied bin Laden to appearances at al-Qaeda training camps and other events. During these appearances, bin Laden would give speeches encouraging followers to carry out suicide attacks and engage in holy war against Americans, the prosecution alleged.

Specifically, prosecutors charged, Hamdan served as a driver in a convoy in which bin Laden fled potential U.S. reprisal attacks in Afghanistan at the time of the al-Qaeda bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998 and the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. In addition, he allegedly received weapons training at al-Qaeda's Farouq training camp in southern Afghanistan on various occasions between 1996 and 2001.

In April 2004, Hamdan, represented by Georgetown University law professor Neal K. Katyal, , filed a petition for habeas corpus, challenging the legality of his detention. While the petition was pending before the U.S. District Court in Washington, the government formally filed the conspiracy charges against him and set in motion his trial before a military commission.

In August 2004, Hamdan appeared in a makeshift courtroom at Guantanamo as the U.S. military formally opened its first trial of an alleged al-Qaeda collaborator. His appearance, after nearly three years in detention, marked the first time that the United States had used military commissions to try war crimes suspects since World War II.

Hamdan's military attorney promptly attacked the military commission process, calling it unfair, and challenged the qualifications of the presiding officer and several other members.

In November 2004, the U.S. District Court granted Hamdan's habeas petition in part, ordering a halt to the military commission. The court ruled that Hamdan could not be tried by a military commission unless a competent tribunal determined that he was actually an "unlawful combatant" and not a prisoner of war under the 1949 Geneva Convention.

Hamdan maintained that instead of facing a military commission under a presidential order, he should be tried by a court martial under the U.S. Code of Military Justice in accordance with the 1949 convention. That would afford him the same rights accorded to U.S. military personnel tried by courts martial, rather than the restrictions he would encounter in a military commission. Human rights groups have charged that the commissions' rules do not meet international standards for fair trials.

The Bush administration appealed the District Court's ruling, and the Defense Department meanwhile gave Hamdan and other Guantanamo detainees hearings before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal. In Hamdan's case, the tribunal affirmed that he was an enemy combatant requiring continued detention. It said he was "either a member of or affiliated with al-Qaeda."

In July 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the District Court's decision, breathing new life into the military commissions. The appeals court said the Geneva Convention does not apply to al-Qaeda members and that the military commissions were authorized by Congress.

The Supreme Court agreed in November last year to hear Hamdan's appeal of the ruling. Chief Justice Roberts, one of the judges who voted against Hamdan's appeal when he served on the appeals court, recused himself from the case.

Congress entered the fray in December, passing the Detainee Treatment Act, which stripped federal courts of jurisdiction over Guantanamo detainees' habeas corpus petitions that were "pending on or after" the date of the law's enactment. The act also provided an alternative military process for reviewing the enemy combatant status of detainees and designated the D.C. Circuit appeals court as the sole venue for appeals of military commission verdicts.

Arguing that the act implicitly accepts the legitimacy of the military commissions and that it disallows Hamdan's habeas petition, the administration asked the Supreme Court in January to dismiss the case. Administration lawyers said the proper time for Hamdan to file a constitutional challenge was after his trial before a military commission.
I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God . . . and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.  I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian.  I believe they make me human . . .

2Lacoste

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Re: Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2006, 11:23:15 AM »
Ha - couldn't do much about this one, could ya John Roberts?   :P

Supreme Court Rejects Guantanamo War Crimes Trials
In 5-3 Decision Justices Rebuke Bush, Ruling Commissions Are Unconstitutional

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 29, 2006; 10:44 AM

The Supreme Court today delivered a stunning rebuke to the Bush administration over its plans to try Guantanamo detainees before military commissions, ruling that the commissions are unconstitutional.

In a 5-3 decision, the court said the trials were not authorized under U.S. law or the Geneva Conventions. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion in the case, called Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. recused himself from the case.
   
The ruling, which overturned a federal appeals court decision in which Roberts had participated, represented a defeat for President Bush, who had ordered military trials for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. About 450 detainees captured in the war on terrorism are currently held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

The case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a 36-year-old Yemeni with links to al-Qaeda, was considered a key test of the judiciary's power during wartime and carried the potential to make a lasting impact on American law. It challenged the very legality of the military commissions established by President Bush to try terrorism suspects.

The case raised core constitutional principles of separation of powers as well as fundamental issues of individual rights. Specifically, the questions concerned:

-The power of Congress and the executive to strip the federal courts and the Supreme Court of jurisdiction.

-The authority of the executive to lock up individuals under claims of wartime power, without benefit of traditional protections such as a jury trial, the right to cross-examine one's accusers and the right to judicial appeal.

-The applicability of international treaties -- specifically the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war -- to the government's treatment of those it deems "enemy combatants."

Hamdan was captured by Afghan militiamen in late November 2001 after the radical Islamic Taliban movement was driven from power in Afghanistan by U.S.-backed Afghan forces. He was subsequently turned over to U.S. authorities, who sent him to the U.S. detention facility at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba in 2002.

He acknowledged that he had worked as a bodyguard and driver for Osama bin Laden, whom he met in Afghanistan in 1996. But he denied having any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks carried out by bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

On Nov. 13, 2001 -- the day the Afghan capital, Kabul, fell to U.S.-backed forces after five years of Taliban rule -- President Bush issued Military Order No. 1 declaring that military commissions would try foreign terrorist suspects for alleged war crimes and sentence them to punishments including death. The administration argued that the commissions were authorized by laws on military justice, by a congressional resolution passed on Sept. 14, 2001, and by the powers vested in the president as commander in chief under the U.S. Constitution.

Hamdan later became one of the first 10 detainees at Guantanamo chosen to face military trials. He was charged in July 2004 with conspiracy to commit terrorism and war crimes while serving as a weapons courier and driver for bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda members. If convicted, he faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Military prosecutors alleged that Hamdan delivered arms, ammunition and other supplies to al-Qaeda fighters, picked up weapons at Taliban warehouses and drove or accompanied bin Laden to appearances at al-Qaeda training camps and other events. During these appearances, bin Laden would give speeches encouraging followers to carry out suicide attacks and engage in holy war against Americans, the prosecution alleged.

Specifically, prosecutors charged, Hamdan served as a driver in a convoy in which bin Laden fled potential U.S. reprisal attacks in Afghanistan at the time of the al-Qaeda bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998 and the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. In addition, he allegedly received weapons training at al-Qaeda's Farouq training camp in southern Afghanistan on various occasions between 1996 and 2001.

In April 2004, Hamdan, represented by Georgetown University law professor Neal K. Katyal, , filed a petition for habeas corpus, challenging the legality of his detention. While the petition was pending before the U.S. District Court in Washington, the government formally filed the conspiracy charges against him and set in motion his trial before a military commission.

In August 2004, Hamdan appeared in a makeshift courtroom at Guantanamo as the U.S. military formally opened its first trial of an alleged al-Qaeda collaborator. His appearance, after nearly three years in detention, marked the first time that the United States had used military commissions to try war crimes suspects since World War II.

Hamdan's military attorney promptly attacked the military commission process, calling it unfair, and challenged the qualifications of the presiding officer and several other members.

In November 2004, the U.S. District Court granted Hamdan's habeas petition in part, ordering a halt to the military commission. The court ruled that Hamdan could not be tried by a military commission unless a competent tribunal determined that he was actually an "unlawful combatant" and not a prisoner of war under the 1949 Geneva Convention.

Hamdan maintained that instead of facing a military commission under a presidential order, he should be tried by a court martial under the U.S. Code of Military Justice in accordance with the 1949 convention. That would afford him the same rights accorded to U.S. military personnel tried by courts martial, rather than the restrictions he would encounter in a military commission. Human rights groups have charged that the commissions' rules do not meet international standards for fair trials.

The Bush administration appealed the District Court's ruling, and the Defense Department meanwhile gave Hamdan and other Guantanamo detainees hearings before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal. In Hamdan's case, the tribunal affirmed that he was an enemy combatant requiring continued detention. It said he was "either a member of or affiliated with al-Qaeda."

In July 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the District Court's decision, breathing new life into the military commissions. The appeals court said the Geneva Convention does not apply to al-Qaeda members and that the military commissions were authorized by Congress.

The Supreme Court agreed in November last year to hear Hamdan's appeal of the ruling. Chief Justice Roberts, one of the judges who voted against Hamdan's appeal when he served on the appeals court, recused himself from the case.

Congress entered the fray in December, passing the Detainee Treatment Act, which stripped federal courts of jurisdiction over Guantanamo detainees' habeas corpus petitions that were "pending on or after" the date of the law's enactment. The act also provided an alternative military process for reviewing the enemy combatant status of detainees and designated the D.C. Circuit appeals court as the sole venue for appeals of military commission verdicts.

Arguing that the act implicitly accepts the legitimacy of the military commissions and that it disallows Hamdan's habeas petition, the administration asked the Supreme Court in January to dismiss the case. Administration lawyers said the proper time for Hamdan to file a constitutional challenge was after his trial before a military commission.



I was in a SCOTUS review session today with a couple of former Solicitors General and a bunch of other liberal legal minds.  When Tom Goldstein (of SCOTUSblog, Akin Gump) read the decision off his laptop in the middle of the session, the crowd erupted.
Mets will take the NL Pennant.

Evolve

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Re: Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2006, 11:25:16 AM »
I know, this is awesome. My undergrad con law class used this very case for a mock trial so I've been following it very closely. Though I'm stoked about the decision I can't get over how the Court seemed to brush aside the Detainee Treatment Act, and I'm on pins and needles waiting to see Stevens' logic. What surprises me most is Kennedy! I thought for sure this was going to be a 4-4 decision or even a 5-3 for the government with Breyer possibly deferring to Congress.

2Lacoste

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Re: Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2006, 11:27:39 AM »
im currently wading through SCOTUSblog atthe moment. yayyy. remember that he can still go back and ask congress for the proper authority, etc. but i doubt they'd give it.


Not if he asks immediately...if he shuts down Guantanamo, moves the prisoners there elsewhere, holds on to them until after the elections, and then asks, he might get it.
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Evolve

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Re: Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2006, 11:30:49 AM »
im currently wading through SCOTUSblog atthe moment. yayyy. remember that he can still go back and ask congress for the proper authority, etc. but i doubt they'd give it.
True, but that's already happened once before and it resulted in the Detainee Treatment Act. The DTA addressed the Court's concerns with Gitmo, at that time, pretty much to the letter. Yet, here we are today watching them find for Hamdan. Bush was even quoted earlier this week saying he was considering shutting down Gitmo pending the results of this case. I highly doubt he'll go back to Congress for new authority yet again and expect the result to be any different. To that end, even if he believed it might work this time I  simply don't think he has the political capital to push something like that through without a major victory  in the midterm elections.

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Re: Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2006, 11:42:00 AM »
Quote
Not if he asks immediately...if he shuts down Guantanamo, moves the prisoners there elsewhere, holds on to them until after the elections, and then asks, he might get it.

That would be a major risk for him politically. First of all, the legal implications of this trial are not isolated to Guantanamo Bay. The thrust of this case revolves around the "enemy combatant" status the DoD has been doling out as a reason to deny PoW rights and dodge the Geneva Convention. Simply moving them out of Gitmo won't rectify the problems the Court has found. Second, moving them and holding them until after elections would run him past the Detainee Treatment Act time table for reviewing and reporting "enemy combatants" putting his administration into further legal trouble than its been in thus far. At that point he would be directly violating a law passed by Congress that he pushed for. Finally, doing so would act contrary to the Court's decisions in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Rasul v. Rumsfeld which found that the sort of indefinate holding of detainees without fair trial was unconstitutional. I suppose a case could be made for a new time table being needed because of the Hamdan decision, but I doubt the Court would buy it.

What I think is more likely is that Bush will shut down Gitmo and release most of its prisoners back to their own countries for trial or release there. Of course, the real baddies will move into the federal court system and be tried there. On a side note, does anyone else find it interesting that Bush distinguishes between the real terrible guys locked up at Gitmo and the rest. I mean, if there's such an obvious difference who are these others we're holding and why? Oh yeah, the Court ruled on that too didn't it.

2Lacoste

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Re: Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2006, 12:02:32 PM »
The sad part is the mental gymnastics one has to go to in order to even find that SCOTUS has jurisdiction in this case.  DTA and Article III should've forbidden them from hearing this case at all.
 
Scalia has it right:

JUSTICE SCALIA, with whom JUSTICE THOMAS and JUSTICE ALITO join, dissenting.

On December 30, 2005, Congress enacted the DetaineeTreatment Act (DTA). It unambiguously provides that, asof that date, “no court, justice, or judge” shall have jurisdiction to consider the habeas application of a Guantanamo Bay detainee. Notwithstanding this plain directive, the Court today concludes that, on what it calls thestatute’s most natural reading, every “court, justice, or judge” before whom such a habeas application was pending on December 30 has jurisdiction to hear, consider, and render judgment on it. This conclusion is patently erroneous. And even if it were not, the jurisdiction supposedlyretained should, in an exercise of sound equitable discretion, not be exercised.

I
A
The DTA provides: “[N]o court, justice, or judge shallhave jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for awrit of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an aliendetained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” §1005(e)(1), 119 Stat. 2742 (internal division omitted). This provision “t[ook] effect on the date of the enactment of this Act,” §1005(h)(1), id., at 2743, which was December 30, 2005. As of that date, then, no court had jurisdiction to “hear or consider” the merits of petitioner’shabeas application. This repeal of jurisdiction is simplynot ambiguous as between pending and future cases. It prohibits any exercise of jurisdiction, and it became effective as to all cases last December 30. It is also perfectly clear that the phrase “no court, justice, or judge” includesthis Court and its Members, and that by exercising our appellate jurisdiction in this case we are “hear[ing] orconsider[ing] . . . an application for a writ of habeas corpus.”

An ancient and unbroken line of authority attests that statutes ousting jurisdiction unambiguously apply to cases pending at their effective date.


Just re-read Article III Section II of the Constitution:

...In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make...  
 
Mets will take the NL Pennant.

Evolve

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Re: Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2006, 12:15:26 PM »
The sad part is the mental gymnastics one has to go to in order to even find that SCOTUS has jurisdiction in this case.  DTA and Article III should've forbidden them from hearing this case at all.

I agree, but so goes many of the Court's decisions. In all fairness it isn't that big of a stretch. The DTA simply stated that the Court couldn't hear new cases concerning military tribunals. The Court then just decided that since Hamdan was appealing for a writ of habeus corpus that his case was pending. Whether or not that was the intention of Congress is highly debatable (I think its clear that Congress meant to keep SCOTUS from hearing any more cases regarding Bush's military tribunals), but the reasoning of the Court in hearing the case isn't that convuluted.

Alamo

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Re: Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2006, 12:17:52 PM »

Just re-read Article III Section II of the Constitution:

...In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make...  

I see your point.  I would, however, interpret this as saying that Congress can assign original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court by statute, not that it can strip a court of any and all jurisdiction on a particular issue.  If Congress can strip the Supreme Court, or other courts for that matter, from any jurisdiction, doesn't this completely negate the judicial check on the legislature?
I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God . . . and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.  I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian.  I believe they make me human . . .

Evolve

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Re: Military Tribunals for Enemy Combatants PWN3D BY SCOTUS!!!
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2006, 12:21:32 PM »

I see your point.  I would, however, interpret this as saying that Congress can assign original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court by statute, not that it can strip a court of any and all jurisdiction on a particular issue.  If Congress can strip the Supreme Court, or other courts for that matter, from any jurisdiction, doesn't this completely negate the judicial check on the legislature?

Actually, it states that the Court's appellate jurisdiction is at the mercy of Congress, but its original jurisdiction in beyond Congress. Historically though, the Court does not take kindly to Congress limiting its powers and, as a result, usually finds a way to moot such laws.