Exquisite Corpus: Judges Junk Great Writ for Bush's Gulag

Guantanamo Detainees Lose Appeal (Washington Post)
Excerpt: A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that hundreds of detainees in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, do not have the right to challenge their imprisonment in federal courts, a victory for the Bush administration that could lead to the Supreme Court again addressing the issue.

In its 2 to 1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld one of the central components of the Military Commissions Act, the law enacted last year by a then-Republican-controlled Congress that stripped Guantanamo detainees of their right to such habeas corpus petitions. Lawyers have filed the petitions on behalf of virtually all of the nearly 400 detainees still at Guantanamo, challenging President Bush's right to hold them indefinitely without charges. Yesterday's ruling effectively dismisses the cases.

This decision was of course rendered by a conservative-leaning court, and co-written by Judge David Sentelle, a right-wing hatchet man who has toted water for the Bush Faction and o
ther right-wing authoritarians for many years. Sentelle, pictured right, was part of the panel picked by right-wing apparatchik William Rehnquist that removed Whitewater investigator Robert Fiske when he was about to clear the Clintons on the failed land deal case, and replace him with Kenneth Starr and his merry band of sexual obsessives. Sentelle also voted to overturn the convictions of Iran-Contra scamsters Oliver North and John Poindexter for their roles in supplying guns to the Shiite extremist regime in Iran and funneling money to the terrorist Contra army in Nicaragua. Sentelle, a Reagan appointee, can always be counted on to approve any extension of arbitrary power by a Republican president. What's more, his partner in the majority, A. Raymond Randolph, was appointed by Daddy Bush. So there's nothing surprising about this court ruling in favor of draconian sway for the Bush Administration.

The twist in this case is that despite the clear ideological bias of the judges – especially Sentelle – they are correct on one essential point: allowing the detainees in Bush's gulag limbo to challenge their indefinite, uncharged imprisonment in federal court would indeed "defy the will of Congress." That's because last year the lockstep, rubberstamp, Reichstag Republicans pushed through the shameful "Military Commissions Act" (MCA) that openly accepted the principle that the "unitary executive" is beyond the reach of the law, and can strip the judiciary of its Constitutional role and set up kangaroo courts to try his captives as he pleases – or let them rot without trial for as long as he likes. Such a craven surrender to authoritarian rule was indeed the expressed will of the majority Reichstaggers, who faced only the most token and tepid opposition from the Jellyfish Party (née Democrats), then in the minority.

In dissenting from Sentelle and Raymond, Judge Judith W. Rogers made the salient point that Congress actually doesn't have the power to eviscerate the 800-year-old doctrine of habeas corpus, except in the most extreme cases of internal rebellion or foreign invasion. Although of course an argument could be made that the United States has been in the throes of an insurrection for more than six years following the coup d'etat that brought loser Bush and his gang to power in December 2000, it's not likely that the Administration would support this position in court. But in any case, Congress certainly exceeded its authority in gutting habeas corpus just on the say-so of the power-drunk goober in the White House.

There is a simple remedy to the situation. With the Jellyfish now in narrow control of Congress, they could pass laws restoring habeas corpus rights to Bush's zeks, and repeal or revamp the Reichstaggers' MCA. As the Post notes, bills to this effect have already been offered in the Senate. One assumes that the Jellyfish can muster enough energy to approve the measures – if they haven't completely spent themselves on the exhausting effort of failing to pass a toothless, spineless, gutless, non-binding resolution tut-tutting over Bush's murderous "surge," that is. Bush will doubtless veto any move to tamper with his beloved MCA, but at least the "will of the Congress" argument in favor of gulags and tyranny will no longer apply when the case finally reaches the Supreme Court.

So we'll soon see if the Jellyfish can develop even the slightest hint of spine – or if they will once again quiver and wiggle and run away at the Reichstaggers' perverted propaganda assertions that the defense of liberty, law and justice, not to mention the national honor, is tantamount to "coddling terrorists."