Wednesday, August 04, 2004

No Names, No Numbers 

From Slate, a good Philip Carter piece on the administration's efforts to stage an end run around the recent Supreme Court decisions on detainee rights:
In the first two years after Sept. 11, whenever its terrorism or detention policies were challenged in the courts, the Bush administration waged a scorched-earth legal campaign in its own defense. Justice Department lawyers routinely deployed an arsenal of procedural motions and legal delay tactics to keep the federal courts from ever hearing a terrorism case on the merits. When the Supreme Court stepped in last June with the last word on the legality of such wartime practices, observers (including me) had a right to hope that the administration would cease its foot-dragging and finally conform its policies to the demands of the justices and the rule of law.

The Bush administration dashed that hope last month with a series of actions concerning detainees from the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. In a court filing on Friday, the administration announced its intention to deny Guantanamo Bay detainees full access to counsel to prepare their habeas corpus petitions and signaled that it would resume its relentless legal tactics to fight the detainees in the courts on a host of procedural issues. The administration also started to move forward with two sets of legal proceedings-—Combatant Status Review Tribunals and military commissions—-to adjudicate the status of Gitmo detainees. These hearings purport to benefit the detainees, but may, in fact, end up hurting more than helping them . . . .

Although these events concern different legal issue and different sets of detainees, they share a common denominator: a legal strategy to keep the rule of law out of the war on terrorism by whatever procedural, legal, or administrative means are available.

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