In two major rulings, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled the Bush administration cannot hold enemy combatants in this country or at Guantanamo Bay without giving them the ability to challenge their detention in court. The pair of rulings was a major setback to the Bush administration and its so-called war on terror.
In the case of Yaser Hamdi, the court ruled 8-to-1 that the government cannot indefinitely hold U.S. citizens without providing a way for them to challenge their detention. Hamdi is a U.S. born citizen who was detained in Afghanistan. President Bush declared him to be an enemy combatant and said that the US could detain him indefinitely without ever presenting evidence against him, without ever pressing charges and without ever allowing him to challenge the ruling. But the court ruled this was unconstitutional.
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in the court’s majority opinion, “We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens.”
Justice Antonin Scalia added “The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive.”
Clarence Thomas was the only justice to support the administration’s policy on Hamdi.
In the case of the Guantanamo Bay detainees, the court ruled 6-3 that the 600 or so non-citizens being held at the naval base on Cuba have the right to file writs of habeas corpus in federal court to challenge their detention. The government had claimed the detainees had no right to access the courts because the base is outside the sovereign territory of the United States.
In Iraq, three U.S. Marines were killed today in a roadside bombing in Baghdad in the first fatal attack on US forces since the so-called handover of power yesterday. Meanwhile, another U.S. soldier, Keith Maupin, of Ohio, may have been killed by members of the Iraqi resistance. Al Jazeera has received a video purportedly of the killing of Maupin. The identity of the victim was not clear in the video. The U.S. military yesterday notified his family, but the military said it was not sure if it was Maupin that had been killed. He had been missing since mid-April. Al Jazeera did not broadcast the killing.
Meanwhile three Turkish hostages who had been threatened with beheading were released by an Iraqi group on Monday.
The selected Prime Minister of Iraq Iyad Allawi has announced Saddam Hussein and 11 former Iraqi officials will be transferred by the US to Iraqi custody on Wednesday. Hussein will remain in a U.S.-run jail.
A new study by the British charity Christian Aid has found the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority can not account for $20 billion of Iraq’s money over the past 15 months. In addition the CPA recently handed out a series of contracts with little oversight. The report states, “In the run-up to the handover, billions more dollars have been hastily allocated to projects that do not appear to have been properly planned. This lack of accountability creates an environment ripe for corruption and theft at every level.” The CPA officially dissolved itself on Monday after the so-called handover of power. The head of the CPA Paul Bremer quietly left the country before reports of the early handover even appeared in the press.
Defense officials announced Monday, that for the first time since the Gulf War the U.S. Army will carry out an involuntary call-up of troops who have already completed their active duty obligations. Roughly 5,600 troops from the seldom-tapped Individual Ready Reserve are expected to be called up. The mobilization is expected to be formally announced tomorrow.
A new poll by the New York Times and CBS News shows President Bush’s job approval rating has fallen to the lowest level of his presidency, 42 percent. The poll found Bush and his main opponent, Senator John Kerry are in a near dead heat in November’s race. The poll also showed 60 percent of Americans now believe the war against Iraq was not worth it.
The White House has filed a complaint with the Irish Embassy after a reporter for the Irish network RTE pressed President Bush to answer questions on the rising number of dead US soldiers, torture, the issue of making the world a more dangerous place, and the president’s unpopularity. The questions were not even unscripted but riled the president. According to RTE, the reporter Carole Coleman had submitted her questions to the White House three days in advance.
In Boston, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the American Friends Service Committee have announced they will sue the city over security plans during the Democratic National Convention. The city has announced it will conduct random searches of passengers and their belongings on subways and commuter trains during the convention which begins July 26.
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