Monday, March 27, 2006

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld , No. 05-184

Meet Salim Hamdan:
Five years ago, Salim Hamdan was living all but anonymously in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, driving a Toyota pickup for Osama bin Laden on his Kandahar farm.
On Tuesday, the tale of the wiry Yemeni with a fourth-grade education will take center stage at the U.S. Supreme Court, as lawyers argue a landmark case over whether President Bush had the power to create a special war court to try Hamdan.
So how did Hamdan get swept up?
In a sense, Hamdan started down his roundabout road to the Supreme Court on Nov. 13, 2001, when President Bush signed an order authorizing the defense secretary to detain foreigners indefinitely - and ordered him to prepare military commissions to try some of them.
Across the globe, when U.S. bombs blasted Afghanistan, Hamdan spirited his pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter to safety in Pakistan.
Hamdan's attorney says Hamdan was returning a borrowed car when Afghan warlords captured him and handed him over to American forces, for a bounty that U.S. agents were offering for foreign Muslims, he believes.
By the time Washington inaugurated its offshore interrogation center with an 8,000-mile air bridge to Cuba in January 2002, Hamdan was already in American hands.
He was taken to Cuba four months later, manacled and masked in a 27-hour trip long after the Bush administration had declared captives there "unlawful combatants," not prisoners of war.
Hamdan did not enter a plea. He filed a habeas corpus petition in the US District Court, in Washington D.C. Here's the biggest problem: there is no possibility of habeas corpus for Hamdan or any of the 10 Gitmo detainees who face kangaroo-tribunals (the fact that only 10/~500 inmates have yet to be charged with anything is another blood-boiling matter!!). Here's what the WaPo had to say:

The case may not produce a frontal clash between the judiciary and the executive -- if the court decides that a recently enacted federal law on military commissions deprives it of jurisdiction to rule on Hamdan's case. Yet another possibility is that the court could reach an inconclusive 4 to 4 tie because Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. had ruled on the case while he was
on a federal appeals court and must sit out now.

[...] Last year, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, one of whose members was Roberts, upheld the administration's position, overruling a decision in Hamdan's favor by the U.S. District Court in Washington.

Interesting. And does anybody remember when John Roberts Jr. ruled on the Hamdan case? Only one bloody week before he was nominated by Bush for the High Court. Amy Goodman was on this like a dirty shirt, last August:

Since 2003, Roberts served on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. As we reported previously, Roberts was part of a three-judge panel that handed President Bush an important victory the week before he announced Roberts' nomination to the bench. The appeals court ruled in the Hamdan V. Rumsfeld case that the military tribunals of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could proceed. The decision also found that Bush could deny terrorism captives prisoner-of-war status as outlined by the Geneva Conventions.
[...]Roberts" answers to a Senate questionnaire reveal that he met with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales six days before hearing oral arguments. The Hamdan case was argued on behalf of the administration by a top Gonzales deputy, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kiesler.
In addition to Gonzales, he met with Vice President Dick Cheney, the vice president's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, Bush's top political strategist, Karl Rove and White House legal council Harriet Miers. And,
on the day the ruling was issued in favor of the administration, Bush himself conducted the final job interview with Roberts.
That's right: Roberts ruled against Hamdan on the day of his final job interview for the bench. Ok, ok, you say...at least Roberts is recusing himself. That's good. But what about the others? Well check this out: Newsweek's Michael Isikoff is reporting that Scalia gave a speech about enemy combatants in Switzerland. Antonin Scalia implied that Europeans were hypocrites for disapproving of GITMO etc. He said:
War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts ...Give me a break.
Scalia should recuse himself too. No Foolin!

To read more about the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, please check out:

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