Today’s ruling that the military tribunals do not have jurisdiction to hear claims over the three prisoners currently charged, including the boy soldier from yesterday’s post, has thrown a wrench into the Administration’s ad hoc tribunal process. The ruling highlights the clash between the rule of law and the slapshod procedures thrown together by the administration and its allies. Until the Bush Administration allows an open and reasoned debate (one that is not based on attack politics and bumper sticker slogans), expect to see more rulings of this nature.
It has long been said that we are a nation of laws, not men. But, the rule of law is not concocted behind closed doors and executed in the dark of night. The rule of law is based on openness and debate, and holds as one of its many premises that a man shall be confronted with the evidence against him and will be able to confront those witnesses who speak against him.
But the Bush Administration has tried to craft its own law by laying new procedures and new layers of secrecy over the old structure. While doing so in the name of fighting terrorism, the government has actually hurt the fight, as today’s ruling shows. The rule of law cannot be respected if the Administration fights this war in the manner it wishes. At the same time, that means those who have done us harm shall not be brought to justice.
Hopefully, today’s ruling will push Congress into action – they should repeal the Military Commissions Act in recognition that it is an eminently flawed piece of legislation, and reason through how we are going to fight this war on terror.
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