A Declaration of Independence

There has been in the last 24 hours much thoughtful commentary on Thursday's landmark terror-law ruling by the United States Supreme Court. The Post's own David Ignatius, for example, chimed in with good analysis and venerable Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston offered a really solid read on what the Justices did not decide in the case. Slate's Emily Bazelon also chimed in with another angle on the ruling that's worth reading. I could go on and on.

But in the end the decision is about one thing and one thing only: terrorism or no, we are still a nation of laws, and of rules, and of precedent, and of balanced government and that means that the President, or any president, doesn't get the final word on what is and what is not constitutional.

For those of you who believe that yesterday's ruling was another element to be included in the grand indictment of "judicial activism," think again. The result from the five Justices who voted in the majority was, Justice Scalia's dissent notwithstanding, a "conservative" ruling in the old-fashioned sense of the word. That's because the Court refused to recognize an expanded view of presidential power that had never before been pitched by any White House ever. It was the executive branch in this case which had sought to change hundreds of years of precedent. It was the Court which maintained the status quo and said no.

The detainees aren't going to be released. They aren't going to tie up the federal courts for years. They aren't getting more rights than you and I. Guantanamo Bay isn't going to be shuttered up like a boardwalk after Labor Day. All that will happen now is that the White House will have to accept the legal reality that it cannot process and prosecute these men out of Gitmo unless it affords them more due process than it originally wanted to. As Mick Jagger says, you can't always get what you want. But what the White House already has, in the form of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and its comprehensive rules, is a way to dispose of these men in a timely fashion so that Gitmo's infamous prison can soon be closed.

In other words, the other two branches don't have to create any single piece of new legislation to solve this problem. All the White House and Congress need to do to move forward is use the procedures already in place. To them I say: be not afraid. Just do it. Get it over with. Stop arguing about how few rights the men deserve. If they are guilty of anything surely a legitimate military court will say so (thus alleviating the need to use the kangaroo courts the Administration tried to sell to the Justices).

Thursday's ruling thus was an entirely fitting result on the eve of this Fourth of July weekend, when our nation's leading newspaper is being accused of treason by government officials, and when the air is thick with rancor over the meaning of patriotism and the role of the government. Too often recently we have seen examples of how the federal government is broken. On this occasion we should mark one of its successes.

By Andrew Cohen |  June 30, 2006; 4:00 PM ET
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Ironically, I've always suspected that regular military courts would be too eager to find these folks guilty. Presumably, the people who might have to fight Al Qaeda operatives again if they were released wouldn't be eager to make that mistake.

Therefore, it just amazes me that anyone would think they'd be too inefficient at jailing Al Qaeda suspects.

Posted by: Cujo359 | June 30, 2006 09:07 PM

Strange when people say "That's because the Court refused to recognize an expanded view of presidential power that had never before been pitched by any White House ever." and "no precedent" with regard to military tribunals.

It indicates a sad lack of familiarity with history. I strongly advise those who think such thoughts to review what Lincoln did during and following the War of Northern Agression as well as what FDR did during WW II.

Plenty of precedent.

Posted by: Ed O'Daniel | July 1, 2006 10:47 AM

I received this a few years ago, and I wondered at the validity of it...it's about Afghanistan and GITMO

not, surprisingly, Iraq per se

> >From Karl W. B. Schwarz

> President, Chief Executive Officer
> Patmos Nanotechnologies, LLC
> 10-13-2004

> By Email, By Facsimile to White House

> Mr. President,

> I am a Conservative Christian Republican that has no intentions of
> voting for you in this year's election and many other Conservative
> Republicans are following me.

> America demands the TRUTH and not after the elections; this nation
> demands the truth from you RIGHT NOW! This letter and an identical email
> will be going out to hundreds of thousands by me, millions by others. The
> following content was sent to the White House by facsimile earlier today
> from Ground Zero in New York City.

> 1. I demand as an American citizen that you lift the "gag order"
> Sibel D. Edmonds and let Americans know what foreign names and what
> AMERICAN NAMES she uncovered in her FBI translations that were
> involved in drug trafficking, money laundering and the financing of 9-11.
> Her facts and your "official story" lies do not add up. Americans demand
> the truth on that matter before the election.

> 2. I demand to know what energy companies were in that Cheney
> Task Force meeting and what discussions there were as to the steps that
> would be taken to remove the Taliban and Bridas Corporation as the last
> remaining obstacle to the United States controlling the Trans-Afghanistan
> Pipeline. I met that company in 1999 and have known since then about the
> Bridas v Unocal, $15 billion interference of contract lawsuit in US
> Court, Southern District of Texas. I also know about the Fifth Circuit
> of Appeals decision on September 9, 2003 that upheld the Bridas $500
> arbitration settlement and the March 22, 2004 denial of Writ of Certiorari
> at the United States Supreme Court, Case 03-1018, Turkmenneft v Bridas.

> 3. I demand to know how many prisoners are being held at GITMO and
> other places that are either BRIDAS EMPLOYEES or are persons that know all
> about Bridas Corporation and what your administration did to get control
> that Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.

> 4. I demand to know how many board meetings Condoleezza Rice and
> Thomas Kean sat in on at Chevron and Amerada Hess where it was discussed
> how they were going to deal with making the billions in "Big Oil"
> investments
> into a land locked Caspian Basin and how to get rid of the Taliban and
> Bridas so they could turn those investments into cash flow. How many times
> did Big Oil ask for military force to complete a commercial transaction
> could not get under their control, and on what exact date did you agree to
> provide such military force - prior to 9-11? Isn't it true Mr. Bush that
> Cheney Energy Task Force discussed that attack on Afghanistan and removal
> of the Taliban / Bridas obstacle once and for all - and did so well in
> advance
> of 9-11?

> 5. I demand to know why you appointed 10 persons to the 9-11
> Commission, 8 of which are directly benefiting by the Taliban / Bridas
> "contract" obstacle being removed - breached with military force, and the
> big Caspian Oil deals that are now coming to market. No, America does not
> 'thank you' for that nor do we hold such despicable conduct up high.

> 6. I demand to know what US Oil Company stepped up as the sponsor
> that OPIC and Asia Development Bank funded Trans-Afghanistan pipeline and
> what US company is constructing that pipeline right now, and what US firms
> are supplying the key components and their relationship to your
> administration.

> 7. I demand that you identify the company and persons who were
> around Bridas to be "natural gas suppliers" to the US owned natural gas
> electrical generation plants in Pakistan (Dynegy - Illinova /Tenaska, El
> Paso (2 OPIC financed transactions) and others.

> 8. I demand to know why you have not been truthful with the
> public that your GWOT and military policy are protecting the Caspian Basin
> Oil and Gas deals for many of your Bush Pioneers, some $9.6 trillion in
> and about $3 trillion in natural gas, now mostly in the hands of your
> wealthy contributors and some elite Liberals to keep this all quiet.

> 9. I demand to know what role the post-bankruptcy ENRON (Prisma
> Energy International, Cayman Islands) is playing in the Caspian Basin
> the same Enron that uses the law firm of Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw [Richard
> Ben Veniste, 9-11 Commission] that established the offshore SPE's for
> that were never under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

> 10. I demand to know why you appointed Richard Ben Veniste to the
> 9-11 Commission when it was his law firm that was stalling Bridas
> Corporation at the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals in the matter of
> Corporation v. Turkmenneft and his law firm is directly involved in
> Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and your administration.

> 11. I demand to know the exact date of the order that had our
> military practicing in early 2001 the invasion of Afghanistan to take out
> the Taliban and Bridas Corporation and make that pipeline under control of
> US interests, many of your Bush Pioneers, and the exact date that our
> military started practicing and preparing for that invasion.

> 12. I demand to know who Remington Holdings Ltd is, and Western
> Acquisitions, Inc, both Baker & Botts clients and the lucky recipients of
> OPIC financing to acquire oil and gas deposits in Pakistan.

> Who are the parties involved in those entities by name and
> from such governmental magnanimity? Is this transaction a payoff? Since
> American taxpayers are footing the bill, we have the right to know - right
> now.

> 13. I demand to know why you could not find 10 people to sit on
> 9-11 Commission that are not directly benefiting from the actions you have
> taken and the lives you have cost or otherwise ruined. Why would you
> people not motivated to find the truth for that would impact "their bottom
> line"?

> 14. I demand a full disclosure from your administration as to the
> Citibank / IFTRIC / OPIC / Export-Import Bank financing of American /
> Israeli based deals in Islamic nations on behalf of your major campaign
> contributors.

> "IFTRIC and Citibank have an agreement allowing Citibank to
> approved IFTRIC-backed transactions. Citibank Israel CEO Nandan Mar said:
> 'The Citibank branch, and the Structured Trade Finance Group, view
> program as a basic product for the bank's domestic activities.'"

> I see distinct differences between "terrorism" and "outrage"
> (Shurtan II) at your policies.

> 15. I demand to know why you wanted an entire new division of the
> CIA for Argentina. As an American citizen I take umbrage to your
> belligerence towards a nation that is not an enemy of the United States by
> any stretch of the imagination, except possibly yours. It is abundantly
> clear that your intentions were solely to intimidate Argentina and
> based Bridas Corporation into silence and that is NOT AMERICA. That has
> every appearance of the United States acting as the terrorist and a state
> sponsor of terrorism. Yes, you are wrapped in a flag but I clearly see
> it is not the one you purport it to be.

> 16. I demand to know why your administration has never disclosed
> that DynPort Vaccine, LLC, owned by DynCorp and now owned by Computer
> Sciences Corporation, a Bush Pioneer, is a possible source for where the
> weaponized Ames Strain of anthrax came from that was used against this
> nation. How did your administration manage to miss one of your campaign
> contributors and a company doing large volumes of business with your
> administration and even being known euphemistically (DynCorp) as The
> Mercenary Company? Who put that Contract on America?

> 17. I demand to know how you can claim a pretense of being a
> Christian while sponsoring and condoning the torture of prisoners,
> including
> sodomizing children, at Abu Ghraib prison.

> 18. I demand to know how your administration can send firms
> as "representatives of this nation" that were convicted of running a flesh
> trade in little girls in Bosnia, specifically one DynCorp. Convicted in
> Texas and the United Kingdom according to reports I have seen and
> detested in Afghanistan. You do recall that DynCorp is the company
> security to protect your puppet Karzai in Afghanistan and your other
> Zalmay Khalilzad is deterring anyone from running for President in that
> bogus "free" democracy?

> 19. I demand to know why your administration keeps running the
> and photos of Adnan G. El Shukrijumah as the "dirty bomb boogeyman" and on
> March 25, 2003 the FBI knew exactly where to find him and did not go after
> him.
> That telephone call was made from my telephone by a Canadian friend that
> was
> in Little Rock on that date, Mr. Bush, so do not pretend "national
> security" with me.

> I am "first person" on this matter and all of America deserves to
> know the extent that your administration has been and is lying to us all -
> and someone that is not Al Qaeda is probably "dropping a suspect name" as
> they set up a dirty bomb attack. Sure have pushed up the oil and gas
> with your strategy though, guess we can consider that another "Mission
> Accomplished".

> 20. I demand to know why your administration keeps referring to
> Adnan G. El Shukrijumah as a "Saudi" when the FBI knows full well he is
> Saudi. His family is from Guyana in South America and they have lived in
> Florida since 1986 without incident. His grandparents were from Yemen,
> moved
> long ago to South America and his mother is from Trinidad & Tobago.

> 21. I demand to know why you alerted India, Pakistan and "Axis of
> Evil" member Iran of your intentions to attack the Taliban / Bridas well
> before 9-11, and not notify the citizens of this nation. That matter was
> reported on June 26, 2001 in India newspapers.

> 22. I demand to know the exact date that the first meeting, first
> page of the Patriot Act was started by your administration.

> 23. I demand to know why it is you, your backers, certain
> that apparently "hate our freedoms" more than these purported GWOT Islamic
> fundamentalists, hence the Patriot Act that treats all Americans with the
> same degree of contempt and disdain you treat all non-wealthy Americans.

> 24. I demand to know why Homeland Security is protecting this
> government and not protecting this nation.

> 25. I demand to know why any dissent or objections to your
> Orwellian, imperialistic, pro-corporate agenda is referred to the Homeland
> Security Counter-Terrorism Division.

> 26. I demand to know why you defile everything you touch and try
> twist it into something that is pro-Bush Backers and anti-American
> and then try to alter our rights as Americans via Patriot Act measures
> are designed to force America into submission and does nothing to protect
> this nation, only this government.

> 27. I demand to know why your administration is planning a
> Pioneers pharmaceutical program" derived from TMAP (Texas Medical
> Algorithm Project) and PENNMAP (Tom Ridge, Pennsylvania) to have
> Americans tested under guidelines prepared by your Bush Pioneers and
> force psychotropic drugs on Americans.

> 28. I demand to know why your administration keeps injecting our
> troops with an anthrax vaccine known to be deadly and harmful to the
> of our soldiers and now apparently wish to inject that into all Americans
> under Project BioShield and martial law. Is that why you have no concern
> whatsoever for the 3 million jobs lost, for between your TMAP lunacy and
> Project BioShield lunacy, well over 3 million Americans could perish if
> same statistical rates hit the general population as has hit our military?
> Can you explain away Holocaust with "brilliant strategy policy" driven by
> unmitigated greed?

> 29. I demand to know why Li Ka-shing was denied Global Crossing on
> national security grounds (very public) yet allow him in the back door in
> Savi Technology (not disclosed), the RFID technology company that is
> purportedly protecting our ports from insertion of a nuclear bomb into
> nation via "ocean going containers". How many doors are left wide open by
> your administration in this GWOT Fable?

> 30. I demand to know why you search the world for mythical
> terrorists and cannot find robber barons and financial terrorist right
> your nose. That many of them are Bush Pioneers and even backers of the
> Democratic Party, and have plundered the investors, workers and citizens
> this nation, is very apparent to Americans and not very pro-family on your
> part.

> Christians do not lie, Mr. Bush, for that is an affront to God. A
> Christian would not willfully mislead this nation, nor send our troops
> Harm's Way for a lie while your wealthy contributors take over a $9.6
> trillion oil, $3.0 trillion natural gas deal and already maneuvering for
> Africa. You are proving to the world that you are terrified of the truth
> have impeded every investigation into the truth.

> Your actions prove that you are not an upstanding Christian, nor
> you a Conservative Republican worthy of that designation.

> Your position as President does not make you unaccountable to the
> citizens of this nation, nor does it entitle you to act as a tyrant, an
> emperor, or serving only those Americans that dole out money for your
> political ambitions and agendas. I see no "stewardship" in your conduct
> whatsoever.

> You have "Mission Accomplished" three times - the removal of
> / Bridas to control that pipeline, radically escalated the price of oil
> gas for some of your major backers, and the death and maiming of many due
> your lies. Your "Iraq Strategery" makes perfect sense to me, since all of
> you needed a diversion away from Afghanistan, the Caspian Basin and what
> did to Bridas Corporation to get control of that $9.6 trillion in oil, $3
> trillion in natural gas.

> Go back home and wrap yourself in the flag of Texas and the shame
> you alone are responsible for creating. Your resume is your doing and
> alone.

> If you were running against me this year, you would not have the
> guts to stay on the stage in a debate with me.

> Shame on all of you, both sides of the aisle that have lied to
> America and gotten so many killed and maimed for a lie, and no, I am not
> antiwar person. Just adamantly opposed to what you stand for, for that is
> lower than Clinton on his worst day.

> Sincerely,

> Karl W. B. Schwarz
> President, Chief Executive Officer
> Patmos Nanotechnologies, LLC

just curious.

Posted by: I'd like to shed some light on the subject... | July 1, 2006 03:52 PM

Ed O'Daniel,

No precedent. Lincoln and FDR both asked Congress for their expanded powers, and neither implemented "tribunals" where the defendants were not even allowed to participate.

Posted by: Cujo359 | July 1, 2006 04:42 PM

I guess it's obvious that the "detainees" are from Al Queada....


no one questions what bush is doing or the cover story that he's hatching.

so what about the validity of the fax to the president dated: 10-13-2004

it mentions litigants and a situation, which would basically mean that there was an oil grab in Afghanistan too....

how about a little help here?


Posted by: so, | July 1, 2006 08:52 PM

the detainees were the litigants.


Posted by: it's my understanding that | July 1, 2006 09:28 PM

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