[Update 6/23/08] An article from former presidential candidate Fred Thompson on the rights that Gitmo detainees had before this ruling. Be sure to read the second page as well which deals with the implications of the ruling. [/Update]
So I’m very surprised to not see this any where but political blogs, but the Supreme Court ruled today that Guantanamo Bay detainees will have the rights of the Constitution, specifically the right of habeas corpus, or the right of access to US courts.
I’m typically hesitant about talking about such a divisive political issue, even from my own blog, but this may be the worst decision to come out of the Supreme Court since Roe v Wade. Why? Good question.
Let me start by saying I have problems with Guantanamo Bay. I believe it should be the right to US courts should apply to any one accused of a crime and captured within the States. Whether citizen or immigrant, no matter what the crime, they should be treated with the same rights than any citizen has. I had some very serious issues with the situation regarding José Padilla, and it was extremely frustrating to see so few on the conservative side seemingly not care about his situation. (He was held for three years without trial). He was ultimately found guilty by a jury of his peers, but that is beside the point. We took away a citizen’s rights, and that shouldn’t happen.
With that said, no, the Constitution absolutely does not apply to people we capture in fighting a foreign war. “So what, CJ, are you saying they don’t have rights? I bet you were happy what happened in Abu Ghraib.” No, they of course have rights. They are human beings, regardless of what they’ve done. But the US courts are not there to try foreign combatants. That is what the military tribunals are for. Let’s bring this decision to its ultimate conclusion with a great quote from Allahpundit.
It seems absurd to apply criminal law to unlawful combatants captured during hostilities abroad. Will they require a Miranda reading, too? Do we have to bring the soldiers and Marines who captured them to the trial? In our 232-year history, when have we ever allowed that kind of access to enemy combatants not captured inside the US itself?
So, what are your thoughts? Am I missing something or making unnecessary conclusions?
Also in the news, a law was passed in the UK House of Commons to be able to detain terror suspects for 42 days before charging them. I’ll take the other side with this one and say this is a very bad thing. For the police to be able to arrest you and hold you for over a month without charging you is a horrible abuse of police power.
In case you are asking what the different between the stories is, I’ll oblige. This is one of my problems with Guantanamo Bay. If we are holding detainees for years without charge or trial, then this is a problem, but this is a separate problem that has its own solutions, not giving them access to US courts.
(Also, for additional reading on Guantanamo Bay, I recommend this series here)