In a major rebuke of the Bush administration, the Supreme Court has ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners have the constitutional right to challenge their detention in civilian court. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 had stripped the prisoners of their habeas corpus rights. The five-to-four ruling marked the third time in four years the Supreme Court has ruled against the Bush administration concerning the rights of Guantanamo prisoners. Speaking in Italy, President Bush said he opposed the decision.
President Bush: "First of all, it’s a Supreme Court decision. We’ll abide by the Court’s decision. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with it. It’s a deeply divided court, and I strongly agree with those who dissented and that their dissent was based on serious concerns about US national security."
The White House has suggested it may turn to Congress to pass legislation to curb the prisoners’ new rights. Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union praised the Supreme Court decision.
Jameel Jaffer: "It is the first time that this court has said clearly that prisoners held at Guantanamo have the right to challenge their detention in court under the Constitution, and that’s important. And it’s especially important because the Bush administration in late 2001 and early 2002 made the decision to hold prisoners at Guantanamo precisely because they thought that they could deny prisoners held there the right to challenge their detention. So this is something — this decision is something that just pulls the rug out of the administration’s central reason for opening up this prison in the first place."
As the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Guantanamo prisoners, it dealt a new setback for American citizens being held in Iraq. In a unanimous ruling, justices ruled two Americans cannot use the US court system to challenge their transfer into Iraqi military custody. The Americans, Shawqi Ahmad Omar and Mohammad Munaf, are being held at Camp Cropper near the Baghdad airport. An Iraqi court has convicted Munaf of kidnapping Romanian journalists in a case widely seen as a sham. Munaf’s lawyers say the judge had been prepared to dismiss the trial until two US military officials intervened and told him to order the death penalty. Munaf’s death sentence was recently overturned, but he could face more charges. Omar, meanwhile, was detained by US forces at his Baghdad home. He’s been accused of harboring insurgents.
In economic news, new figures show home foreclosures are up nearly 50 percent over the same period last year. The foreclosure listing company RealtyTrac says more than 260,000 homes received a foreclosure filing in May, up from 176,000 in the same month in 2007.
The news comes as the nation’s top banking regulator is accusing banks and mortgage firms of providing misleading information on loans and foreclosures stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis. John Dugan, the Comptroller of the Currency, says the financial industry has failed to provide accurate information on who they are helping and the rates of foreclosure. Dugan says the information is crucial to determining the severity of the housing crisis and the effectiveness of the response.
On Capitol Hill, the House has approved a measure to expand jobless benefits for unemployed Americans for an additional three months. Democrats got an exact two-thirds majority in passing the vote, enough to withstand a threatened White House veto.
The vote came as Labor Department figures showed the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased by 25,000 last week. The unemployment rate rose half a percentage point last month to 5.5 percent, the biggest gain in more than two decades.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is claiming talks on a long-term agreement with the US have reached what he calls “a dead end.” US demands have included maintaining fifty-eight permanent military bases in Iraq, immunity for American troops and contractors, a free hand to conduct military operations without Iraqi approval, and control of Iraqi airspace. Speaking in Jordan, Maliki said, “We have reached an impasse, because when we opened these negotiations we did not realize that the US demands would so deeply affect Iraqi sovereignty, and this is something we can never accept.” The Independent of London reported last week the US is leveraging tens of billions of dollars in seized Iraqi assets to push through its demands. The Bush administration has angered Iraqi officials by refusing to lift support for Iraq’s UN designation as a threat to international security. The New York Times reports Iraqi officials will ask the UN Security Council today to expend its protection of Iraq against compensation claims.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, the US is being accused of killing two civilians in a raid in Hillah earlier today. The US says it killed five suspected Shiite fighters.
In Cuba, the Cuban government has announced plans to remove limits on annual wages. For decades, Cuban salaries have been separated by incremental amounts for a wide range of jobs. It’s the latest in a series of economic reforms enacted in Cuba since Raul Castro succeeded his brother Fidel Castro.
And on the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has ended his bid for the White House. Paul says he won’t endorse presumptive nominee Senator John McCain and plans to hold his own parallel convention when Republicans meet in September.
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