The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling recognizing Habeas Corpus rights for Guantanamo prisoners means that justice has survived in the USA for another day - - just barely.
Most people are unaware that of the nearly 770 men held at Guantanamo since the base opened, only 19 have actually been charged. There are currently about 250 men who are being held without charges in Guantanamo. Many of them have been held for over six years.
Now just step back and think about that last sentence for a moment.
A country founded on the rule of law is holding men indefinitely in a prison outside our borders. Imagine the outrage if 250 Americans were being held indefinitely in a foreign country for years without charges or trials.
Yesterday’s wise decision by the court has absolutely nothing to do with freeing “terrorists” and everything to do with what the U.S. supposedly stands for. Anyone accused of crimes, yes, even war crimes, has a right to face their accuser and to present and hear evidence that ultimately determines their guilt or innocence. If these 250 men are guilty, then the government should charge them and bring them to trial in a reasonable amount of time.
Even when these prisoners are eventually brought to trial, lawyers representing them in the habeas corpus petitions predicted that the government would be unable to prove to civilian judges in most of the cases that the men committed war crimes. Many of them will have to be released. So not only have we locked these men up and metaphorically thrown away the key, but the government apparently doesn’t have sufficient evidence to prosecute them. This uncomfortable but critical fact may explain their indefinite detentions.
I can’t end this blog without commenting on the dissenting statement made by Antonin Scalia. Scalia, who joined the 3 other conservatives on the Court in voting against recognizing Habeas Corpus rights for prisoners, claimed that the Court’s decision ultimately means that more Americans would be killed. That’s right. Recognizing Habeas Corpus rights for detainees means more deaths for Americans.
If that fear mongering, twisted slice of logic doesn’t illustrate how far the “justice” train has gone off the tracks in this country, I don’t know what does.