Gitmo vs. Rule of Law

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), February 5, 2005 | Go to article overview

Gitmo vs. Rule of Law


Byline: The Register-Guard

Since the U.S. Supreme Court declared last June that federal courts have jurisdiction over challenges by detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the Bush administration has done its best to defy the landmark ruling.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Senior Judge Joyce Hens Green rejected the administration's insistence that it can create a class of people called "enemy combatants" who are outside the protection of the very rule of law that the United States was founded to uphold.

Green rightly rejected the administration's request to toss out lawsuits by 54 detainees protesting their imprisonment at Guantanamo. She ruled unconstitutional the tribunals that were established by the military in a half-hearted effort to satisfy the high court's ruling that the prisoners must receive individual legal reviews.

Green said those tribunals violated due process rights guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment and, in some cases, the Geneva Convention treaties that govern the treatment of prisoners of war. She also questioned the reliability of information used in those tribunals that may have been obtained through torture and, more broadly, the wobbly framework of legal arguments and processes used by the administration to justify the indefinite detention of prisoners.

`It would be far easier for the government to prosecute the war on terrorism if it could imprison all suspected `enemy combatants' at Guantanamo Bay without having to acknowledge and respect any constitutional rights of detainees," Green wrote. That, she added, would violate "the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years."

Green's ruling squares nicely with the Supreme Court's ruling last summer that the Guantanamo detainees are entitled to challenge their detentions. …

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