The Real News of the Day

Supreme CourtWell, I still haven’t got a shred of trust in them, but apparently even crooks can make a good decision once in a while. The Supreme Court just ruled that — whatever fascist authority the Bush regime would like to exercise — Guantanamo Bay is not a black hole into which Duh-bya’s hit men can just drop people forever. It’s under U.S. Control, and it’s therefore under U.S. jurisdiction. The ruling applies not only to U.S. citizens captured abroad (like Yaser Esam Hamdi), but also to foreign nationals as well — in other words, everyone detained at Guantanamo Bay.

Now, I’m not about to say that the doors of Guantanamo should just be opened up and all the “detainees” (a repugnant euphemism if ever there were one) should be freed. But when the entire public case for detaining these people is “Trust us” — and the administration in question has proven itself the most untrustworthy administration in history — you’ll understand if I think that opening the cases up to public scrutiny can only be a good thing. Otherwise, there is absolutely nothing to prevent the secret police from rounding up anyone and locking him away for all eternity. (By the way, there’s a great column in this past Sunday’s Post demonstrating just how easy it is to become a victim of antiterrorism zealotry — the author is far more patient than I would have been.)

Not that today’s news is all rosy, however. In what’s becoming a disturbing trend of late, the Supremes weaseled out of ruling on the case of Jose Padilla — probably the most significant case of all. An American citizen, arrested on American soil, given absolutely no ability to respond in any way to the array of charges leveled against him by the government — charges that are made not only in the legal realm, but repeatedly in press briefings and conferences. All of this continuing as the government’s allegations — for which no evidence has been presented — are gradually shown to be meritless. Is Padilla guilty of something? Could be, though I’m substantially less certain of that that I was the last time I commented on it. But in this country, the state cannot detain people indiscriminately with the sole argument being that he must be guilty of something, and we’ll just imprison him until we find out (or, more likely at this point, manufacture) exactly what.


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