My colleagues and I were busy on numerous fronts this week. Members of the House and Senate started negotiations on the budget on Tuesday and their work will continue through next week as we try to reach an agreement on the spending plan for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. We passed legislation on important “non-budget” issues such as cracking down on sex offenders, campaign finance reform and protecting veterans and our military from identity theft. We also had a little “sports” fun on Wednesday and Thursday when we were lucky enough to have the Carolina Hurricanes and Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek of Greensboro visit the General Assembly.
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The more that I see and read about Russ Feingold the more that I like him. He is thoughtful and practical. He is not afraid of the GOP. He knows when he is right and when to force the issue. Tim is throwing 95 mph fastballs at him and Senator Feingold is knocking them out of the park. Iraq and the phased pull out, Cheney's comments about Democrats suggesting a pull out even a question about Lieberman - Feingold was perfect.
The Supreme Court in an interesting 5 - 3 ruling stated that the Bush Administration had overstepped its bounds and that Military War Crimes trials violates the constituion and the Geneva Convention.
I can pretend to be a lawyer and discuss the technical aspects of this case. But it ends up sounding like a doctor trying to be a lawyer. Glen Greenwald gives a complete rundown on this decision.
Think Progress posted this -
Justice Breyer stated in today’s Hamdan opinion, “Nothing prevents the President from returning to Congress to seek the authority he believes necessary.” Reacting to Breyer, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Fox, “The court is telling us that tribunals would be okay if you have the Congress’ blessing.”
President Bush seems to be quickly embracing the idea.
As I understand, a senator has already been on TV — I haven’t seen it. I haven’t heard what he said, but they briefed me and said he wants to devise law in conformity with the case that would enable us to use a military tribunal to hold these people to account. And if that’s the case, we’ll work with him.
But if Bush truly wants to devise law in conformity with the opinion, the military commissions will need to undergo significant changes. Mere congressional authorization of the military commission that the Bush administration has conceived will not be enough to pass the legal test. Today’s Supreme Court opinion makes clear that a congressionally-authorized military commission would need to comply with Geneva Conventions, particularly Common Article 3. From the opinion:
Common Article 3, then, is applicable here and, as indicated above, requires that Hamdan be tried by a “regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”
The commentary accompanying a provision of the Fourth Geneva Convention, for example, defines “‘regularly constituted’” tribunals to include “ordinary military courts” and “definitely exclud[e] all special tribunals.
Common Article 3 obviously tolerates a great degree of flexibility in trying individuals captured during armed conflict; its requirements are general ones, crafted to accommodate a wide variety of legal systems. But requirements they are nonetheless. The commission that the President has convened to try Hamdan does not meet those requirements.
In other words, Bush’s military commissions need more than a rubber-stamp from Congress.