In a stunning blow to the Bush Administration in its war-on-terrorism policies, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay have a right to pursue habeas challenges to their detention. The Court, dividing 5-4, ruled that Congress had not validly taken away habeas rights.For those not familiar with Latin or jduicial terminology, here is the definition of habeas corpus.
is the name of a legal action, or writ, through which a person can seek relief
from unlawful detention of themselves or another person. The writ of habeas corpus has historically been an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual
freedom against arbitrary state action.
Also known as "The Great Writ," a writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum is a summons with the force of a court order addressed to the custodian (such as a prison official) demanding that a prisoner be brought before the court, together with proof of authority, allowing the court to determine whether that custodian has lawful authority to hold that person, or, if not, the person should be released from custody. The prisoner, or another person on their behalf (for example, where the prisoner is being held incommunicado), may petition the court or an individual judge for a writ of habeas corpus.
In simple terms, habeas corpus prevents an individual from being detained without being charged. It is one of the bedrocks of our CRIMINAL justice system.
My problem with this perspective as well as that on FISA is that applying criminal laws and philosophies to war is nonsensical. Let's take the case of Jose Padilla. He was stopped at O'Hare Airport and he is suspected of trying to blow up a so called "dirty bomb" within the U.S. Now, do we really want the government to only detain someone like Padilla only after they have enough to criminally charge him?
Do we really want to make the standards for all terrorists a legal one? This is what I have never understood. During World War II, the U.S. apprehended six German spies in New York. Should we have afforded them criminal rights? In my opinion, that is absolute nonsense because these spies were NOT committing crimes. They were committing acts of war. The same goes for Padilla and everyone else being held at Gitmo. They don't deserve the legal protections afforded to criminals because they are NOT criminals. They are enemy combatants attempting to commit acts of war.
The two are wholly different. In a criminal investigation, a crime has already been committed. In this case, an act of war is about to be committed. If we wait until there is enough evidence to detain someone like Padilla, the evidence may very well be the "dirty bomb" he is trying to set off. Never before in the history of U.S. warfare has the enemy been afforded the rights of criminals in our judicial system. Yet, that's exactly what some want now. How can we possible prosecute the war on terror effectively if our enemy is treated as criminals rather than enemies in war? Yet, that's exactly what this ruling has done.
More coverage from Michelle Malkin and Red State and Daily Kos and Huffington Post on the left.