Implications of Hamdan vs Rumsfeld

“This isn’t a challenge to some decision that a court makes. This is a challenge to the court itself.” –
Prof. Neal Katyal, in front of the US Supreme Court.

bin Laden’s driver defeated the US Secretary of Defence in the US Supreme Court. Some sense has prevailed in the US, and the doublespeak of the Bush administration has come to a reckoning. And finally, we see a glimpse of what made Western civilization great: the rule of law.

I have read the oral arguments and the decision in detail and the three dissenting judges merely reinforced their ties to the administration, and in dissent confirmed the ruling! In other words, had they known that there would not be a majority opinion, they might have changed their stance, for no judge wants to go down in history as advocating lawlessness.

Since Chief Justice Roberts was involved in the Appeals Court decision, he recused himself, but is chastened.

Now, let us look at the implications:

  1. All US secret prisons are rendered illegal.
  2. US cannot try bin Laden or Zawahiri in front of military tribunals in case they are detained. This is probably why no effort was made to detain Zarqawi alive.
  3. The Bush administration, army officers and CIA officers are liable to be guilty of war crimes under the Geneva Convention(s).

Katyal was eloquent:* “And the — Justice Alito, the Government has had, essentially, now 4 years to get their charges together on Mr. Hamdan. At this point, that — you know, what you have before you is the charge. And that — and they’ve stuck with this charge, of conspiracy, which is not a violation of the laws of war. And, indeed, the — and the — it’s not just conspiracy isn’t, but that the commission is operating in totally uncharted waters, because it’s charging a violation in a stateless, territoryless conflict, something as to which the full laws of war have never applied. Indeed, Justice Alito, all 10 people facing military commissions today, all 10 indictments charge conspiracy right now. Seven only charge conspiracy.”*

And let us not forget Lt. Cdr. Swift, a person of character who has put his career in jeopardy – but steadfastly turned a regular plea-bargain assignment into a saving of the Western civilization. He is a true hero, and one day his contribution will be duly praised.

Katyal wakes up the sleepy Cheney friend who embarrassed himself in Switzerland a few days ago:

JUSTICE SCALIA: What is the use of them if they have to follow all of the procedures required by the UCMJ? I mean, I thought that the whole object was to have a different procedure.
MR. KATYAL: Justice Scalia, that’s what the Government would like you to believe. I don’t think that’s true. . .

Katyal, under 40, and an Indian-American of Punjabi origin, was to be the voice of reason. Hamdan thanked God and thanked the Courts. So should the entire Western civilization.