June 14, 2008

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This is what aggravates me so much about the Sunday "news" shows. There is so much lying and muddying of the waters so that the average American--who doesn't have the time to read judicial decisions--doesn't understand that the Supreme Court basically told the Bush administration that they are operating outside of the established laws of the country for the third time in the way that they are prosecuting their War on Terrorâ„¢. Former Senator and indolent presidential contender Fred Thompson appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to provide his "Law & Order"-honed gravitas to the false assertion (and GOP platform) that the recent Supreme Court decision saying that Guantanamo detainees have a right to habeas corpus is somehow destroying this country.

After years of trying to make the unitary executive a more powerful branch of the government, the GOP seems upset that the Court would remind them that new laws enacted would be subject to review by the judicial branch...that whole Constitution thing being more of a suggestion than a system of government, apparently. Thompson claims that our laws are more liberal as they ever have been, which is odd, considering that the ones they sought to strike have been in place since the founding of the country. In fact, referencing Marbury v. Madison (1803), Justice Kennedy wrote: *

(T)he writ of habeas corpus is itself an indispensable mechanism for monitoring the separation of powers. The test for determining the scope of this provision must not be subject to manipulation by those whose power it is designed to restrain.

But I guess it's too much to ask for a Republican to actually respect the Constitution.

Transcripts below the fold

*Corrected to properly attribute quote

STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard Senator Edwards on the Guantanamo decision. You guys seem to be at polar opposites of this issue.

THOMPSON: Yes. Yes. Well, one of the things that my friend ignores is the fact that there is a procedure for hearings. There is a procedure that's more liberal than anything we've ever had in the history of this country, as far as foreign enemy combatants are concerned. And it winds up in the federal courts, as a matter of fact, under the process before the Supreme Court just did what it did.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But there's no guaranteed right to review for the detainees at Guantanamo right now, though, before the Supreme Court decision.

THOMPSON: Oh, yes. The federal circuit court, D.C. Circuit Court. That's where it winds up. That's where, when they go through the military procedure at Guantanamo, they have a right to appeal to that court. And it's been there for about two and a half years, and these petitioners have not availed themselves of it.

So Justice Roberts said in his dissent that this is the most liberal procedure that we've ever had in the history of the country, as far as wartime is concerned.

But what the court has done, in a nutshell, is to basically give access to our federal court system on a habeas corpus basis, the same rights as an American citizen would have. These are rights given to foreign enemy combatants and held in foreign territories in a time of war.

And not only is it erroneous, I think, of the reading of the Constitution and historical precedent, it's bad policy.

They've basically taken something that's been under the purview of the other two branches, elected branches of government, for all these years, and arrogated that to themselves. And it's bad for them and I think it's bad for the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We've never seen a situation quite like this before. We have a war where there's really no timeframe for it, and you have so many of these...

THOMPSON: Well, whose fault is that, George? I mean, the fact that the war's going on a long time, whose fault is that?

STEPHANOPOULOS: But in this situation, these combatants at Guantanamo don't have right for review unless they get that tribunal, and so many of them haven't gotten it.

THOMPSON: No, they're entitled to the tribunal, and that's what's being established now. Under the Hamdan decision that was recently handed down, the court basically said for an American citizen, for an American citizen, this tribunal, kind of tribunal system would be OK.


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