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.

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Comment by Dana King on June 14, 2008 at 5:47am
Well put. I am appalled over the number of "patriots" who parse every word of the Constitution they claim to revere until it suits their purposes, who never consider the true intent or spirit of the document. The Framers wanted the government to have to get warrants for searches and seizures; they wanted the government to have to show cause for denying someone his freedom. At least make sure they have the right guy. Nothing in the Constitution says this applies only to citizens, of to groups we approve of; it applies to everyone who comes in contact with the government.

Habeas Corpus procedings will not release violent terrorists, not if done right. They will release those who were caught up in what has been proven to be a pretty indiscriminate web.

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