Prague Twin

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hamdan Revisited

The White House has proposed a model for the military tribunals that would try prisonerss in Guantanamo Bay, as well as other current detainees and future detainees. What they have proposed is nearly identical to what had been proposed for Hamdan.

Contrary to some of the rhetoric I've heard, no power was stripped from the President as a result of the Hamdan decision. It was the structure of the court that the court objected to. Furthermore, Congress had not approved the proposed tribunal. The juristiction issue was struck down due to lack of urgency. Hamdan had been in prison for nearly 4 years. Previous courts had allowed Congress to strip the court of the power to grant writs of certiorai in habeas corpus cases in cases where expediency was crucial. The court ruled that expediancy, a requirement for military tribunals, was not sufficient in Hamdan's case.

So although the court has already ruled that an almost identical tribunal as the one proposed is unlawful, they left the door open for Congress to approve a tribunal. They made it pretty clear that if the executive submits a plan to Congress, and Congress appoves that plan, the court will not interfere.

This is how it should be.

Let Congress vote on a tribunal that has the power to try people not members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Let them approve a plan that is summed up so well in the Washington Post article by John D. Hutson, a former top Navy lawyer. He said the court would work something like this...

We know you're guilty. We can't tell you why, but there's a guy, we can't tell you who, who told us something. We can't tell you what, but you're guilty.

Josef K. had it better.


  • A few years back a British muso, Billy Bragg was given the job to set new music to the unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics. The CD was Mermaid Avenue, but I can’t find my copy. There is a Guthrie lyric about it McCarthyism which echoes your closing quote.
    There was a man, I can’t say which man – went into a building, I can’t say which building & etc. Ecgoes in history.

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 7:48 PM  

  • Believe it or not, I actually have heard Billy Bragg's music. Great guitarist.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:10 PM  

  • Well we bloggers do seem to have fallen among like minds.

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 9:39 PM  

  • Your closing quote could be from the pages of Kafka. Which book of his I am thinking of has been erased clean from my memory propably as a result of consuming too many cheap Canadian beers. You in another hand...Urquel...Homer wants some...

    By Anonymous Pekka, at 10:47 PM  

  • Right, Josef K! I am not the sharpest knife in a drawer.

    By Anonymous Pekka, at 1:04 AM  

  • Hi Pekka,

    Welcome. I'm glad you figured that one out! When I read the quote, I couldn't help but to think of "The Trial."

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 7:38 AM  

  • Yup, Kafka. We seem to be getting closer to that all the time.

    By Blogger Tom Harper, at 6:22 AM  

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