The Parhat Decision: The Courts Can Handle the Truth:
Think of our government in terms of some horrible torture device from the Middle Ages, where three prisoners are placed on three platforms, one prisoner per, and the platforms are connected by ropes to a central point and balance each other. In the middle, held in place by the other platforms and a large rope connected somewhere above, a larger platform holds the children of the prisoners, unaware of what's going on. It's all like a chandelier of despair, if you will. Below them are, oh, hell, let's say alligators and sharp wooden spikes, so that if you fall and get impaled, you can't run as the gators tear you apart and engorge your delicious innards. That seems properly medieval.
Now, here's the deal: if one of the prisoners tries to escape or falls off, everyone plunges into the pit of spikes and gators. So, in the best scenario that can be hoped for, the prisoners would have more or less silently assented to stay there, keeping everything nice and balanced. However, if one of those prisoners was the Bush administration, that bastard'd be leaping for the large platform, making sure the other two were ripped to pieces. Here's the problem, one last little twist in this endless metaphor: the middle platform wasn't meant to hold the weight of another person, and the rope that's holding it suspended above the pit is fraying fast. And two emaciated prisoners have only made the gators hungrier.
In its decision on enemy combatant status for Gitmo detainee Huzaifa Parhat, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said, in essence, the executive branch needs to learn its place. One of the key passages is this from page 30 of the unanimous (and quite redacted) decision: "In this opinion, we neither prescribe nor proscribe possible ways in which the government may demonstrate the reliability of its evidence. We merely reject the government’s contention that it can prevail by submitting documents that read as if they were indictments or civil complaints, and that simply assert as facts the elements required to prove that a detainee falls within the definition of enemy combatant. To do otherwise would require the courts to rubber-stamp the government’s charges, in contravention of our understanding that Congress intended the court 'to engage in meaningful review of the record.'"
As we head towards Independence Day weekend, ya gotta love that a federal court just proclaimed to the White House, "Hey, fuckers, there's a reason we're all here, us and the Congress."
The court even cited the recent Supreme Court decision allowing for habeas corpus to apply to the detainees: "Boumediene made it quite clear that, at least for a detainee like Parhat who has been imprisoned for a lengthy period and has already had a CSRT [Combatant Status Review Tribunal], a habeas corpus proceeding in the district court is also available....He may pursue such a proceeding immediately, without waiting to learn whether the government will convene another CSRT...The habeas proceeding will have procedures that are more protective of Parhat’s rights than those available under the DTA [Detainee Treatment Act]...In that
proceeding, he will be able to make use of the determinations we have made today regarding the decision of his CSRT, and he will be able to raise issues that we did not reach. Most important, in that proceeding there is no question but that the court will have the power to order him released."
Yes, the three-judge panel, which includes two Republican appointees, cock-punched the Bush administration, even offering a quote from Lewis Carroll to point out how absurd the administration's contentions are: "I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true." (Take that sarcasm, Antonin Scalia.) In other words, they can't keep someone in jail forever, torturing them for information they don't have, just because the President (any president, by the way, Republicans) says so. Check out that Declaration we shoot fireworks for. It's pretty goddamn clear on that point.
Of course, of course, right wingers are upset. Said Coast Guard Academy professor Glenn Sulmasy, "This case displays the inadequacies of having civilian courts inject themselves into military decision-making." In an editorial on the habeas decision, Sulmasy came up with the idea of creating another court system, neither military tribunal nor civilian court, but an unholy meshing of them, in order to try terrorists. One presumes that that shadow court would get a shadow Constitution, too.
But with the Boumediene case and now the Parhat case, the courts of this nation are telling us, "Stop being such little bitches about terrorism." Cowards, criminals, and liars are those who so mistrust proof and evidence and, well, fuck, truth. Of course, we are being led by...oh, you know.