Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hangin' Judges 

Our examination of today's Hamdan ruling has been cursory, but there is one portion that we especially enjoyed, here explicated by Marty Lederman of SCOTUSblog:
[The Court held] That Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. (See also the AMK concurrence: "The provision is part of a treaty the United States has ratified and thus accepted as binding law. By Act of Congress, moreover, violations of Common Article 3 are considered 'war crimes,' punishable as federal offenses, when committed by or against United States nationals and military personnel. See 18 U. S. C. § 2441.") This ruling has enormous implications for the Administration's detention and interrogation practices, because the Administration's legal conclusion that CA3 does not apply, and that we will not apply it as a matter of practice, was the key linchpin to the entire edifice of legal maneuvers that led to waterboarding, hypothermia, degradation, etc. See my post here. Per today's decision, the Administration appears to have been engaged in war crimes, which are subejct to the death penalty. Although I don't think due process would allow prosecution based on conduct previously undertaken on OLC's advice that CA3 did not apply (after all, the Chief Justice concluded, in the D.C. Circuit, that CA3 did not apply), practices going forward are bound to change, and quick. (I'm sure the memos are being drafted and distributed in the CIA and DOD even as we "speak.")

Contrary to several blogs I've read, the Court did not hold that all of the protections of the Geneva Conventions apply to suspected Al Qaeda detainees, or that they are entitled to all of the protections of POWs. It held "merely" that the minimum baseline protections of Common Article 3 are binding -- which is a floor far, far higher than the practices of this Administration.
Shorter Supreme Court: Fuck Yoo.

PHOTO: In the wake of today's Supreme Court ruling, many subscribers to the theory of the unitary executive may find themselves looking for new positions in the private sector. Potential employers are invited to read the Crimson Executioner's resume here.

UPDATE: A welcome, if rather surprising, admission from the Dungeonmaster-in-Chief, who opened the Q&A session with a characteristically witty reference to Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel":
I haven't had a chance to fully review the findings of the Supreme Court. I wanna assure you that we take them very seriously.

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