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July 2, 2006
Congress Will Override Supreme Court On Tribunals

Congress appears ready to overrule the Supreme Court and establish military tribunals for detainess in the war on terror, allowing for the most efficient process possible to determine the culpability of terrorists captured in the act. Senators from both parties have determined that the Supreme Court has forced them to act to keep al-Qaeda operatives from exploiting the civil court system:

The US Congress is ready to craft legislation to prosecute Guantanamo war-on-terror prisoners after the government's plan for military trials was rejected by the Supreme Court, top senators said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told the Fox News Sunday television program that Congress could conceivably pass a new law allowing the government to try the prisoners by military commissions by September. ...

Democratic Senator Jack Reed told Fox News that the minority Democrats are likely to cooperate with Republicans and the White House to pass the legislation enabling detainee trials.

"This has to be a process where we understand and recognize that we have to have a legitimate procedure -- legitimate in the eyes of the court, legitimate in the eyes of the American people, that we can move quickly to try these individuals and do justice," Reed said.

"And I think that's something that will come together in a bipartisan basis, I hope, in a deliberate and quick fashion, and do that."

Let's hope that we can take Senator Reed at his word. The ruling from the Supreme Court that essentially grants terrorists Geneva Convention protections despite explicit disqualifications from it needs to get reversed as quickly as possible. The court's majority decision declared that the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) issued by Congress in 2001 somehow did not cover the establishment of military tribunals for unlawful combatants, which leaves Congress the opening to fill the gap.

I actually prefer the method that Justice Stevens explicitly left open to the Bush administration in his opinion: leave them detained until hostilities cease in the war on terror. Radical Islam does not leave many deterrents to its lunatic pawns. Death in combat or a summary execution suits them fine. Public trials give them the opportunity to exploit our civil justice system as platforms for their screeds, as Zacarias Moussaoui showed. However, the perpetual and anonymous detention offered by Stevens does give the terrorists the one situation they find most repellent -- and that could persuade at least a few of them that taking on the US holds nothing but a miserable stretch of decades in an iron cage, with no public outlet for their hatred.

Failing that, the military tribunals clearly give the US the most efficient system of handling these detainees. Terrorists captured on the battlefield or in conspiracies against us abroad do not have any rights to access our civil system, nor to invoke the normal issues of Miranda rights and revelations of intel techniques. Congress is making the right decision in explicitly filling the gap that the Supreme Court left in its decision.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 2, 2006 7:36 PM

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