Commentary

  • The Supreme Court's ruling last week in Hamdan that military commissions erected at Guantánamo are inconsistent with our military law and the Geneva Conventions has already prompted fierce-and flawed-debate. One key question, especially relevant in next week's Judiciary Committee hearings on Hamdan, is whether and how the Geneva Conventions apply to military commissions. The many factually and legally incorrect assertions clogging the air make it worth stepping back to understand what Geneva does, and why it matters for our success against the terrorist threat.

    July 7, 2006
  • The rule of law is a fragile, tenuous thing. It depends on the willingness of judges to stand fast to core principles. It needs legislators to eschew feverish panic and cheap partisan gain, especially in times of crisis. And it demands that officials of the executive branch respect the will of the people, embodied in laws enacted each day on Capitol Hill. We've not been doing this so well recently, as the president repeatedly indicates his willingness to cast aside law and Congress stands aside heedlessly. But yesterday, the Supreme Court put the other two branches to shame when it confirmed that "the executive is bound to comply with the rule of law that prevails in this jurisdiction." Now it's up to the other two branches to follow its wise lead.

    June 30, 2006
  • Death is typically a moment of truth. But the occasion of three suicides at the Guantánamo Bay-where almost 500 men and boys have been held without trial for up to four years now-have only proved how poorly the Administration grasps the facts of today's terrorism challenge. And it only showed how deeply ineffectual and counterproductive U.S. counter-terrorism policy becomes when based on flawed assumptions.

    June 19, 2006
  • The Bush administration's blatant disregard for the legal process has become so routine that almost nothing it does is surprising at this point. Its most recent machination is to try to circumvent judicial review in the case of two Uighurs, an ethnic group from western China, detained without charge at Guantanamo. The men had been imprisoned for more than four years even though the government concedes they are "non-enemy combatants," or, in other words, innocent.

    May 9, 2006
  • Can a U.S. citizen be locked up for three-plus years without access to a court or opportunity to challenge the government’s reasons for detention? Today, the answer in America is a provisional “yes.” And last week the government took one important step toward cementing this “yes” into a permanent power.

    April 11, 2006
  • A federal district court in Washington, DC yesterday issued the first judicial interpretation of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 in the very same legal

    April 6, 2006
  • On March 28, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the high-stakes legal challenge to the...

    March 30, 2006
  • Does a federal court have the power to consider evidence that a Guantanamo prisoner is a...

    March 28, 2006
  • Time and again, we the people learn too late a measure ranked as essential to the nation’s safety is grounded on shifting factual sands. The founders of our nation, of course, anticipated the risk that government, in pursuing security, would overreach and err. What is dangerous is that the constitutional mechanisms crafted to identify, expose and check such foul-ups, which James Madison famously called our “auxiliary protections,” have recently faltered.

    March 9, 2006
  • Everybody but Dick Cheney knows it: America has a Guantnamo problem. While Vice President Dick Cheney continues to insist that Guantnamos detainees are the worst of a very bad lot, the rest of the world sees the Cuban prison as a symbol of hubris and a rallying cry for Al Qaeda. Calling the camp an anomaly that has to be dealt with, even staunch administration ally Tony Blair has joined the worldwide chorus pressing the Bush administration to solve Guantnamo.

    December 15, 2005

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