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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

 
Waddo We Do Now???

Detainees May Be Moved Off Cuba Base

As attorneys for detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, began preparing the first of hundreds of expected lawsuits demanding that the government justify the detentions, senior administration officials acknowledged that they were unprepared for a rebuke in two landmark Supreme Court decisions that rejected the military's treatment of prisoners in the war on terrorism.

[...]

"They didn't really have a specific plan for what to do, case-by-case, if we lost," a senior defense official said on condition of anonymity. "The Justice Department didn't have a plan. State didn't have a plan. This wasn't a unilateral mistake on DOD's part. It's astounding to me that these cases have been pending for so long and nobody came up with a contingency plan."


Apparently, this was because they were convinced they were going to win.

An internal Justice Department memo reviewed Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times outlining communications plans in response to high court rulings on the issue listed two pages of talking points to be used "in case of win," and a page of talking points to be used "in case of win if some sort of process is required" -- a partial victory. Yet, there was no category for action in the event of a broad defeat in the memo, titled "Supreme Court Decision Communications Plan."

Few lawyers inside or outside the government doubted that the high court would allow the government the right to detain combatants during wartime, as has been allowed in every major war for two centuries. That option was upheld.

But the memo wrongly predicted an outright win in the case Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld, involving Yaser Esam Hamdi, a Louisiana-born man of Saudi descent captured in Afghanistan.

"The DOD/DOJ position on the detention of Hamdi will be decided in our favor as a clear-cut POW case," the memo said, although Hamdi was not held as a prisoner of war.

The memo predicted a 5-4 vote in favor of the government in Rasul vs. Bush and Al Odah vs. United States. Justices in that case, involving 16 Guantanamo detainees seized in Afghanistan and Pakistan, found in the reverse, voting 6-3 that military prisoners who are not U.S. citizens cannot be held without access to American courts.


I'm not enough of a court watcher to decipher why they thought this when virtually everything I read in the last month indicated that the court was very likely to rule against the administration. (I do wonder what, if anything, this all has to do with Ted "Nasty, Brutish and Short" Olsen's somewhat unexpected departure.)

Faith based justice sure isn't what it used to be, is it?





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