Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Speaking of due process

This is, perhaps, deserving of a bit more attention:

The US military is clearing the way for executions of condemned terror suspects to take place at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

The army has just changed the rules governing the location of military executions.

The new regulations are primarily aimed at service personnel sentenced to death at a military court martial.

Previously executions could only take place at a military jail in Kansas but now death sentences can be carried out anywhere, including the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

The army has confirmed the new rules will also apply to any Guantanamo detainee sentenced to death at a specially convened military tribunal.

One of two conclusions is clear: either the military is anxious to kill someone, and not just on the battlefield; or the military is looking ahead to killing a few of the "detainees" at Guantanamo, perhaps the better to block their appeals to the Supreme Court to demand, once again, that they have due process of law.

I would like to be less cynical about the subject, but honestly, I see no reason to be. Even the Army is calling this change a "major revision." The question is: why? And why now? Because transporting detainees to the continental U.S. would destroy whatever legal fiction the Administration clings to that they are not on "U.S. soil" and so not subject to U.S jurisdiction?

If that isn't the obvious reason, I don't know what is. Gonzalez is touting the Hamdi decision as support for domestic wiretapping, but the Court ruled in Hamdi that "due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decisionmaker." So far, the only decision maker has been the U.S. military.

And now they are going to decide where they can execute people; and then who; and then all that's required is the President's approval.

So, like I say, I'm trying not to be cynical; but it isn't easy.

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