Roberts Rules

Court Rules Military Panels to Try Detainees
By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 16, 2005; Page A01


A federal appeals court yesterday backed the Bush administration's plan to let special panels of military officers conduct trials of terrorism suspects detained in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, overturning a lower-court decision that has blocked the "military commissions" for the past eight months.

The decision clears the way for the Defense Department to use the commissions to try some of the hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. It was hailed by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales yesterday as affirming the president's "critical authority" to determine how to try detainees deemed "enemy combatants" in the war on terrorism.

The ruling was an important test of the government's strategy of denying such detainees access not only to civilian courts but also to the more formal proceedings of military courts-martial, in which they would enjoy additional rights and legal protections.

One of the judges on the deciding panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, John G. Roberts, is said to be on the administration's list of possible Supreme Court nominees.

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The appellate court swept aside the lower court's decision in what amounted to a general endorsement of a legal theory that the president has broad powers under the Constitution to decide how military detainees are to be handled during a time of conflict.

"On the merits, there is little to Hamdan's argument" that the president's establishment of the commissions illegally tramples the prerogatives of Congress, the three-member panel said in a decision written by Judge A. Raymond Randolph and joined by Roberts and Senior Judge Stephen F. Williams.

The panel said courts should defer to President Bush's decision in 2002 that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to detainees Bush declares as enemy combatants and that, in any event, the conventions are not enforceable by U.S. courts in lawsuits brought by foreigners.

"This decision is a major win for the Administration," a Justice Department news release said.

The Defense Department itself declined to comment.

via: The Sideshow

source: Empire Burlesque

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