Monday, November 07, 2005

Then Torture We Must, Tho' Our Cause is Not Just

And this be our Satan We Trust?

The Wall Street Journal

November 7, 2005 1:03 p.m. EST


Supreme Pressure
November 7, 2005 1:03 p.m.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to U.S. military tribunals for terrorism detainees, adding to the worries of President Bush, already fighting another challenge to his authority, a congressional resolution outlawing the abuse of terrorism suspects.

The high court's decision to hear the appeal by Osama bin Laden's driver1, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, in the military tribunal case was unexpected. Nearly a year ago, a federal judge ruled that military trials for terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay should be halted, saying that such detainees might be due the protections of the Geneva Convention. A federal appeals court, which then included current Chief Justice John Roberts, sided with the Bush administration and ruled that Guantanamo detainees didn't merit Geneva Convention protection. The Supreme Court's hearing of the case will pose an interesting dilemma for the new U.S. chief justice. Critics will likely call for him to recuse himself from the case, but Mr. Hamdan's lawyers may want him involved, if only to avoid the possibility of a 4-4 tie, which would let the lower court's ruling stand. The case will be heard in the spring, by which time federal appellate judge Samuel Alito, Mr. Bush's nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, may also be on the bench.

The court's decision adds to a string of recent disappointments for Mr. Bush, at a time when his popularity is at its nadir. In a sign of his withering political capital, the Senate has twice bucked his authority and voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution outlawing the abuse of terrorism suspects, saying a wave of prisoner abuses from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib has diminished America's standing in the world and put its troops at risk. So far, Republican leaders in the House have kept the issue from coming to a vote in that body, but a similar resolution would likely pass there. Mr. Bush wants the CIA exempted from such a measure and has vowed to veto it, saying it would tie his hands (so to speak) in fighting terrorism. "There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again," he told reporters. "So you bet we will aggressively pursue them, but we will do so under the law. We do not torture."


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