Feeling like Paul Scofield

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has always like the film “A Man for All Seasons.” He’s liked it not because he is a big Sir Thomas More fan - or a great detractor of Henry VIII. (In fact, your Maximum Leader isn’t a fan of either. He dislikes More because of More’s hatchet-job history of Richard III. And he dislikes Henry VIII because he was Henry VIII.) But there is a certain appeal to Paul Schofield’s Thomas More in the film. He is a man dedicated to rule of law and tradition. But Schofield shows that he is torn between loyalty to his prince and loyalty to his faith. In the end your Maximum Leader feels a certain affinity for More - who sticks by his principles and suffers the ultimate price.

Which brings us to Boumediene v. Bush. Your Maximum Leader is torn by this decision. When he says he is torn by it, it is for a host of reasons. On the one hand, your Maximum Leader wants to side with the minority dissents. The prisoners at Gitmo are not on US soil and should not be granted rights guaranteed for Americans (or people in America). But on the other hand, those detainees are being held by the power of the United States in a territory undisputably controlled exclusively by the United States. And the United States is a nation of laws and rights. We (as in the US) shouldn’t just detain people for as long as we care to without attempting a trial.

Your Maximum Leader thinks that the Boumediene decision is wrong to extend access to US Courts to non-US citizens, being held outside the US. He also isn’t sure that once access is granted that it will actually do anything to “help” the detainees. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his dissent, the majority holding opens up more questions than it solves. In addition to that it opens up a whole line of inquiry that disturbs your Maximum Leader greatly (could we have non-US citizens working for US companies in foreign countries bringing suits in US courts? could we have non-US citizens with some grievance against the US bring actions in US courts?).

Now having just written that he thinks that Boumediene is wrongly decided, he still thinks that the majority of justices were on to something. It flies in the face of all of our legal traditions to hold someone indefinitely without charge. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t believe that the Military Commissions are moving with any deliberate speed to actually charge someone with something that you could in turn convict them of and thus justify their continued detention. Of course, once convicted by a Military Commission one suspects that a sentance would not be indefinite and service of a sentance would then result in release. Acquittal would, also, have to result in release. Your Maximum Leader thinks that if the Military Commissions were to move a little more swiftly he might not feel that we are holding these detainees indefinitely.

Does anyone else out there think that this is a problem? Let’s be frank here. Your Maximum Leader isn’t advocating that we release these terrorist detainees. (NB: Summarially executing them might be an option. Another option, allow them to “escape” into a minefield separating Gitmo from Cuba and see how far they get.) But holding them without trial forever causes him to worry about the very underpinnings of our whole system of government. Giving them access to US courts is a bad move and sets a bad precedent. What a shitty situation this is.

Carry on.

3 Comments »
Polymath said:

If something had been done with the remaining POWs (I know that “POW” is not truly correct, but it saves on typing) before the Boumediene decision, obviously, we would not be taking our constitutional eggs to a fine market. It would have been a good idea to have the POWs “disappear” after interrogators determined that nothing further could be gained by their detention. As far as I can tell, we still have authority under the Geneva convention to execute them. Of course, if the detention of the POWs had never been made public, the situation would be much different indeed.

It would piss off the leftists (who cares?), but President Bush could say: “Justice Kennedy has made his decision. Let him enforce it.”



Polymath said:

BTW, the Cato Institute submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of the petitioner.



virgil xenophon said:

I, like you, am of two minds for roughly the same reasons. In Vietnam I often saw the District Chief who was bickering with a particular Village Chief over taxes owed, for example, turn in his political opponent as a VC “sympathizer” just to eliminate the competition. OTH, “Ya pays your money and ya takes your chances”
is one of the maxims of my generation. So……not a lot of tears shed
for young Yemenites found wandering back country roads at 3am in Afghanistan as if out for an evening stroll but temp. lost due to wrong turn.



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