McCain: SCOTUS Detainee Decision One Of The Worst In History

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Constitution, Guantanamo Bay, Law, McCain, The War On Terrorism, War

Can you tell it’s an election year?

From Swampland comes this transcript of McCain’s statements during a town hall…

The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country. Sen. Graham and Sen. Lieberman and I had worked very hard to make sure that we didn’t torture any prisoners, that we didn’t mistreat them, that we abided by the Geneva Conventions, which applies to all prisoners.

But we also made it perfectly clear, and I won’t go through all the legislation we passed, and the prohibition against torture, but we made it very clear that these are enemy combatants, these are people who are not citizens, they do not and never have been given the rights that citizens of this country have.

And my friends there are some bad people down there. There are some bad people. So now what are we going to do. We are now going to have the courts flooded with so-called, quote, Habeas Corpus suits against the government, whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material. And we are going to be bollixed up in a way that is terribly unfortunate, because we need to go ahead and adjudicate these cases.

Oh…the horror! Habeas suits! Yeah, our legal system will really get crushed under the weight of all of those…

The thing missing from his remarks is the idea that these people aren’t just getting the chance to file frivolous lawsuits…they’re getting the chance to file ANY lawsuit because now they actually have access to legal counsel.

Of course Republicans don’t like this because they see enemy combatants as defacto prisoners of war, captured from some mythical country of “Terroristas”, but this isn’t a war against a tactic we can’t detain people indefinitely and deny them access to legal counsel. It just doesn’t work that way. Either they committed a crime we can try them for or they didn’t.

Also, another potential positive to emerge from this decision is now we’ll have to make absolutely sure that the people we’re snatching can actually be tried and convicted. So this ruling may actually put LESS of a burden on us in the long run.

One of the worst decisions in history? Not by a long shot.


This entry was posted on Friday, June 13th, 2008 and is filed under Constitution, Guantanamo Bay, Law, McCain, The War On Terrorism, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “McCain: SCOTUS Detainee Decision One Of The Worst In History”

  1. ExiledIndependent Says:

    I think the problem with the SCOTUS decision here isn’t with the current detainees, it’s with the future implications of the precedent that this establishes. If, heaven forbid, we have a large-scale war in the future, this decision is going to wreck havoc on the legal system. We, as a country, still clearly don’t understand how to prosecute this new type of military conflict we’ve gotten ourselves into.

  2. J. Harden Says:

    Well, at least McCain and Obama will have the opportunity to debate this issue in a series of townhall meetings…oh no, they won’t because Obama is apparently scared of that.

  3. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Also, another potential positive to emerge from this decision is now we’ll have to make absolutely sure that the people we’re snatching can actually be tried and convicted.

    Or we will have to make absolutely sure that any and all evidence that leads us to the terrorist can be released to the public without compromising national security, even if it is absolutely clear that he is guilty – otherwise we let him go, ship him off to Egypt, or we don’t take prisoners.

    If, heaven forbid, we have a large-scale war in the future, this decision is going to wreck havoc on the legal system.

    Don’t worry. There is no such thing as war anymore. If Iran ships thousands of rockets to Hezbollah, perhaps with WMD’s affixed to the warheads in order to be launched at Israeli civilians, its not an act of war. Its a government sponsored crime wave.

    God forbid there is an actual conventional war where enemy soldiers wore uniforms and obeyed the Geneva conventions – we might have to detain them indefinitely without trial! Thank God the option is available to use human shields and saw off the heads of women and children, therefore you can preserve your “rights.”

  4. Justin Gardner Says:

    Jimmy, you know very well that many people we’ve kidnapped and detained have been guilty of absolutely nothing. One, two or three years later, we let them go.

    So…this is obviously a flawed policy. We can’t keep doing this, and the only way to change it is to restore habeas rights.

  5. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    One, two or three years later, we let them go.

    It still will take time, perhaps years, to clear a terrorist suspect who was picked up mistakenly, even if they are tried in a federal court of law. Should we allow these detainees to post bail too?

    The President and the Congress have been working on developing a system of military tribunals to deal with these problems of guilt/innocence. It has never been fully implemented, as they have been dealing with these legal issues over the past few years. If it ever got off the ground, you might see innocent detainees released more promptly, as you point out that the military indeed has released detainees who they find to be mistakenly picked up, eventually. It won’t be perfect, but obviously neither is this ruling.

    We can’t keep doing this, and the only way to change it is to restore habeas rights.

    When did foreign nationals detained during wartime while taking up arms against America ever have habeas rights in the first place?

  6. Justin Gardner Says:

    When did foreign nationals detained during wartime while taking up arms against America ever have habeas rights in the first place?

    Okay, question…how can you define this current situation as a war when it’s against a tactic?

  7. TheMiddle Says:

    Jimmy, had the Bush administration offered something, anything, other than just indefinite, unrepresented detention, this probably wouldn’t have happened. They reap what they sow. And as an American, despite the potential danger, I have a right to say that I think what were doing is criminal and we ought to be above it. I can’t abide allowing terrorism to lower our standards.

    You think we need a huge military, or so you’ve stated to me. I think we need to cut our military spending by about 80% and relocate that money to fight modern ‘wars.’ If our enemies are going to fight us asymmetrically, we ought to do the same.

    Whats needed isn’t indefinite holding of supposed terrorists, whats needed is a lift on the ban on state-sponsored assassinations. We’ve got the worlds finest scout snipers, we ought to be using them far more effectively than we are. Fight terrorism with a little terror of our own. Nothing like instant death you can never see coming, can’t stop, and can’t fight back against to send a message.

  8. gerryf Says:

    Technically, there is no bad on state-sponsored assassinations.

    There is a ban on state-sponsored POLITICAL assassinations, ie, assassinating the political leaders of other countries. A terrorist organization leader is not covered by this ban.

    The ban was created by executive order (by President Gerald Ford), not by congressional law. Following 9/11, Bush has authorized an “Intelligent Finding” permitting lethal covert operations against Osama bin Laden–previously, Clinton authorized attacks on terrorist leaders in Afghanistan–arguably, both actions are not political assassinations.

    The only political assassination since Ford was arguably President Reagan, who authorized bombing the home of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s home in 1986 in retaliation for the bombing of a Berlin discotheque frequented by U.S. troops. Reagan’s people argued that this was response to a criminal act, rather than a political act.

    Anyway, back on topic, the U.S. policy of Gitmo and secret detentions in other countries has been a national embarrassment. If I was going to even consider McCain, this clinches it.

  9. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Jimmy, had the Bush administration offered something, anything, other than just indefinite, unrepresented detention, this probably wouldn’t have happened.

    I would argue that they have offered something, namely these military tribunals, which many Democrats in congress also support and wish to develop. I don’t think the supreme court would adjudicate based on a lack of action by the president on addressing the issue of detainees. Lawyers had brought this to the court’s attention on behalf of those detainees, and the courts were forced to make a decision.

    I think we need to cut our military spending by about 80% and relocate that money to fight modern ‘wars.’

    Fighting asymmetrical wars, especially when you have to do it perfectly without any troop casualties – as all war critics demand – is more expensive than you think. Network-centric “4G” warfare calls for enormous technological capabilities, research, intelligence operations ect… Not to mention you still need a large navy to enforce embargoes, and air power to dominate the skies.

    whats needed is a lift on the ban on state-sponsored assassinations.

    This we can agree on.

    how can you define this current situation as a war when it’s against a tactic?

    Because its not a war against a tactic. I hate the misnomer, “War on Terror” as much as the next guy, but thats because the war is really against a clandestine nation of radical Islamists, existing ubiquitously amongst populations of Islamic countries in the ashes of the Ottoman Caliphate. They don’t have a homeland called “Terroristas” that you can locate on a map, but that makes them more dangerous. When America became the dominant superpower that could never be fought straight on, the ideology of Islamic hegemony – whether it is Salafist or Khomeinist – never died, but evolved a new mechanism of survival and expansion through terrorism (and Da’wa, gradual demographic dissolution of their western enemies from within, but thats a whole other battlefield.)

  10. Justin Gardner Says:

    They don’t have a homeland called “Terroristas”

    It’s funny you use that made up country. I was going to write exactly that in my previous comment, spelled exactly that way, but instead asked the question. Odd, no?

    But getting back on track…

    Well, you may hate “WoT”, but that’s what we’ve got and the definition of what is and isn’t a war is vitally important. Frankly, this isn’t a war and never has been. Sure, Bush and company tried to make it into a war by invading a country who only had tenuous ties with terrorists, but it didn’t work and now the tide is turning against their intellectually lazy foreign policy doctrine.

    Also, I absolutely disagree that they are more dangerous because they don’t originate from a single point. They could never wreak anywhere close to the historic havoc that nations have. Terrorism has existed since god knows when, and while its effects are disconcerting and deadly, it’s not simply not equivalent to when a nation decides to start involving it citizens in the struggle. Not anywhere close.

    But, in the end, what we’re debating is does the fact that we were sucker punched by a group of terrorists give us, as a nation, the right to kidnap people from anywhere in the world and detain them indefinitely without access to legal counsel. Put another way…do those acts on 9/11/01 mean that we can completely strip somebody of their rights at any time for any reason?

    The answer is obvious to me. I’m sorry it isn’t to you.

  11. BenG Says:

    Great thread, guys. Really enjoyed the debate and agree with the historic summary from Jimmy the D. I just don’t understand how you can take the leap of faith towards any Govnmt and allow them to detain any foreigner they deem a terrorist, for any length of time, without some proof of guilt to be judged by a third party – be it a military court or whom ever.
    The detainees @ Gitmo have been granted habeas corpus for 6 yrs and still remain behind bars. The system works, we all survived a judge’s decision.
    I do believe it’s important to fight this ‘war’ on a much more covert manner, such as ‘The Middle’ has described. The Bush admins’ big fault has been to draw too much attention to the ‘bad guys’ , calling them out- so to speak. All this does is add fuel to the fire and make great recruiting films for fthe evemy.

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