Gitmo Drama Turns Into Farce
You could make a movie ought of the chaos at Guantanamo Bay-- actually, you could make two movies. The first could be a drama which focuses upon the fact that hundreds of the detainees down there in Cuba have been held now for half a decade despite having never fired a shot in anger at U.S. troops or otherwise engaged in any acts of terrorism. The second movie could be a comedy which focuses upon the inapt, inept and half-ass ways in which our government has tried (and so far miserably failed) to process the men through some sort of fair tribunal system.
Yesterday was a day of farce in this never-ending story. Two military judges threw out two separate detainee cases because the definition of the detainees as classified by the military did not match the classification of the detainees contained in the new Military Commissions Act. In the law, only "unlawful enemy combatants" made be tried by the newly-constituted military panels. But on the ground, in Cuba, the detainees have been classified only as "enemy combatants." For the want of a nail....
The stunning turn-- anyone want to cry "technicality" to the judges' faces?-- means that we shouldn't expect any actual trials at Gitmo for quite some time. Either the military will have to "re-classify" the men as "unlawful" combatants or the Congress will have to change the new law to make it match the classification with which our military already has tagged the men. Although Plan A might take less time, Plan B makes more sense. Even before Monday's shockers, some Democrats on Capitol Hill were talking about revising the Military Commissions Act to make it more fair to the detainees (and also to resident aliens). And after Monday's news, even Sen Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it might be time to simply fix the problem correctly (at long last) instead of trying to rush through measures which, for years now, have failed to satisfy whatever legal tests have applied. We started down this road, remember, in 2002.
Meanwhile, I'll update the Bench Conference later today, after I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. Just in case you are wondering, I am predicting that Libby will indeed get some prison time. And if I am wrong I am quite confident that you will remind me. Have a good morning.
By Andrew Cohen |
June 5, 2007; 8:36 AM ET
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