Skip to main content

Supreme Court got it right; McCain is flat wrong


A couple days ago the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the writ of habeas corpus, a basic legal right at the foundation of our judicial system, for those held at the Guantanamo concentration camp. Habeas corpus has been around since the 17th century; it is the right for an individual to challenge their detention. In Guantanamo, men and teenage boys have been held there for years, some for now more than six years. Some were turned over to the U.S. military by bounty hunters in Afghanistan.

McCain believes this system should continue, Obama does not. This is a stark contrast between the two; one of the starkest yet during this campaign. To not respect one of the key legal rights which our Constitution was founded on is a serious flaw. Below is an article on McCain's recent blustering on this very topic. I wonder if he believes the North Vietnamese government had the right to hold him indefinitely and mistreat him.

McCain blasts ruling on Guantanamo
He calls decision 'one of the worst' in US history
By Sasha Issenberg and Farah Stockman, Globe Staff | June 14, 2008
PEMBERTON, N.J. - Senator John McCain, transforming a recent Supreme Court decision into a campaign issue yesterday, blasted the court's ruling, which established that foreign terrorism suspects held in detention at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay have the constitutional right to challenge their detention in civilian courts.

"The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country," McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said at a town hall meeting in this southern New Jersey town adjacent to McGuire Air Force Base.

His opponent, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, had welcomed the decision, which the court reached on a 5-4 vote Thursday. In response, Obama used the ruling to tie McCain to President Bush, who created the detention center for captured "enemy combatants" and the military-based justice system to handle their cases.

Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said in a statement that the ruling validating detainees' rights "ensures that we can protect our nation and bring terrorists to justice, while also protecting our core values." He said the deeply divided court, which has ruled on this issue before, saw through "the Bush administration's attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo - yet another failed policy supported by John McCain."

Obama has long advocated ending the justice system specially created for Guantanamo Bay. He said the detainees should be brought to trial in US courts or in military courts-martial, a proposal the Supreme Court ruling does not affect.

The high court's decision, however, voided some of McCain's proposals for Guantanamo.

Like Obama, McCain said Guantanamo should be closed, but he wants to bring the specially created military justice system to US soil to try the inmates. He insisted that the inmates should not have access to civilian courts, regardless of where they are detained.

"We made it very clear these are enemy combatants," McCain said yesterday, defending his position. "They have not, and never have, been given the rights of citizens of this country."

Two of McCain's allies, Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, joined him at a news conference after the town hall meeting.

Graham, a close adviser to McCain on military and justice issues, said Thursday the Constitution might need to be amended to override the Supreme Court ruling. McCain did not rule out that option yesterday but said there are other avenues available, including drafting a new law to limit detainees' access to federal courts.

The three senators rejected Obama's attempts to link their positions on Guantanamo to Bush. They said their support for a 2006 law setting up the special military system on Guantanamo was an attempt to "find the right balance" between Bush's security-first policy and the rule of law.

McCain's harsh critique was far more forceful than his reaction on Thursday, suggesting he saw a political advantage in identifying with the conservative justices who were in the minority on the matter. Using the language of domestic politics, he and his two Senate colleagues condemned the high court's "unaccountable judges" - a frequent bugaboo of conservative voters - and their role in a national security matter.

Graham said the court effectively stripped legal decisions on enemy combatants from "military personnel tribunals trained in the matters of warfare." Now, he added, cases will be handled "by the most liberal judges the detainees can find in the most liberal jurisdictions with no standards" and at a high risk to national security.

McCain then read approvingly from the dissenting opinion written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts - whom McCain cites as a model for his appointees should he become president - and scolded Obama for siding with the court's liberal bloc.

"Senator Obama applauds this decision, and he supports it," McCain said. "I argue against it and will do what I can to at least narrow down some of the wide-open aspects of this Supreme Court decision."

That pledge alarmed some human rights activists, who fear McCain could try to re-create the Guantanamo-style system of justice on US soil. If that happens, they warn, noncitizens - including green card holders - could be held indefinitely if deemed threats to national security.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006, which McCain backed, effectively eliminated enemy combatants' rights even if they were held on US soil. The Supreme Court ruling nullified it, but McCain's vow to keep fighting for it has disturbed some human rights activists and legal specialists.

"It is contrary to our basic values," said Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, a nonpartisan group of military scholars.

Comments

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Popular posts from this blog

Gays and Lesbians Opposed to Violence (GLOV) Reforms

As appeared in Metro Weekly...

Stirred to Action
Viciousness of recent anti-gay attacks spurs community reaction
by Will O'Bryan
Published on September 18, 2008

Perhaps a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to motivating a community, a picture -- far more than flow charts of crime statistics or bullet points in a report -- may actually be invaluable. Add to that picture a compelling online essay, and you have the start of a community movement.

With a number of publicized attacks against local gay people in recent months, from Nathaniel Salerno's attack on a Metro train in December to Michael Roike and Chris Burrell being beaten to the ground near the 14th and P Streets NW intersection in August, the viciousness Todd Metrokin suffered in Adams Morgan in July -- written about on The New Gay blog by his friend Chris Farris in late August -- may have been a tipping point.

''There are the anecdotal stories you hear from your friends,'' says Pete Perry, a loca…

A Proposal for We The People to Institute Positive Change

Hello sisters and brothers, subjects of the United States Empire, it has become clear the elected representatives on Capitol Hill no longer truly represent us and our best interests, but rather are serving their elite major campaign contributors. They serve the interests of the extreme rich and large corporations, certainly not the average American worker, student, or retired individual.

In order to improve our government, we, a collective of dedicated social justice activists, propose three demands to those who have power to legislate within the Federal Government. We list those demands here, and will then discuss how to make sure they pass into the law of the land:

1) Universal single payer health care, something that nearly all other developed nations of the world already possess for their citizens. We, as human beings, have a right to good health and to never be financially crippled in this pursuit of our own well-being. We demand that Congress pass House Resolution 676 and a Sen…

A week ago I was in DC Jail -- This is a reflection

A week ago, I was spending my third and last night in DC Jail. A loud, violent and cruel place. A place populated by young black men, as a white inmate I was an extreme minority. And as a gay white man of somewhat slight build, I elected to get the protective custody order from Judge Lynn Liebovitz upon my sentencing. My sentencing, in retrospect was not that severe, and this is because my pre-sentencing officer had recommended probation and I admitted that my days of being arrested for expressing my moral and ethical beliefs (which put me in complete opposition to the U.S. Government’s foreign policy) were over. Perhaps someday, when I am retired and close to my friend Eve Tetaz’s age I may resume nonviolent civil resistance against the moral bankruptcy and downright evil policies of the U.S. Empire, but for now I choose a different life for my lifetime partner and myself.

Many of you have expressed an interest in discussing my experiences further, and I am open to accepting questions…