Friday, August 25, 2006
Nat Hentoff on the coming constitutional crisis, and the lawyers who are already preparing to challenge the Bush administration in court once the fix is in:
But quietly, in fear of that ruling [Hamdan v. Rumsfeld], the administration has drafted two changes—in the War Crimes Act and in our treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions—to foreclose any prosecutions of the Bush high command. The goal is to get these amendments passed by the Republican-controlled Congress before the midterm elections that could put the Democrats in control of the Senate or otherwise significantly increase their power in Congress as a whole . . . .
Furthermore, indicating the boundless duplicity of this administration, the amendment to the War Crimes Act—bypassing the abuses forbidden by that law, the Geneva Conventions, and now the Supreme Court of the United States—excuses any of these crimes that have been committed since September 11, 2001! Anyone who has ordered or perpetrated "humiliating and degrading" treatment since then gets off scot-free.
All the official lawlessness since 9-11—now even overruling a Supreme Court decision—makes chilling a recent, little-publicized speech by Justice Anthony Kennedy on August 5 before the American Bar Association:
"The rule of law must be binding on all government officials; it must respect the dignity, equality, and human rights of every person, and it must guarantee people the right to enforce the law without fear of retaliation."
If these administration amendments—mocking the American rule of law—are passed by Congress and, of course, signed by this president, who believes he is the law, they will be fought in court by a host of constitutional lawyers, including Scott Horton. When the case gets to the Supreme Court, I hope Justice Anthony Kennedy remembers the speech he made this summer while Bush's lawyers were setting up their three-card-monte game . . . .
The homicidal terrorists— not only Al Qaeda—who constitute our enemy are, as Colin Powell said soon after 9-11, engaged in what could be an endless war against civilization. What keeps this nation civilized, so far, is our ability to expose and combat this administration's uncivilized evisceration of U.S. and international law.