On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision
ruled that President Bush's effort to railroad tortured Guantanamo Bay detainees
in kangaroo courts "violates
both U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions."
Better late than never, but it sure took a long time for the checks and balances
to call a halt to the illegal and unconstitutional behavior of the executive.
The Legal Times quotes David Remes, a partner in the law firm of Covington
& Burling: "At the broadest level, the Court has rejected the basic
legal theory of the Bush administration since 9/11 – that the president has
the inherent power to do whatever he wants in the name of fighting terrorism
without accountability to Congress or the courts."
Perhaps the Court's ruling has more far-reaching implications. In finding Bush
in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the ruling may have created a prima
facie case for charges to be filed against Bush as a war criminal.
Many readers have concluded that Bush assumed the war criminal's mantle when
he illegally invaded Iraq under false pretenses. The U.S. itself established the
Nuremberg standard that it is a war crime to launch a war of aggression. This
was the charge that the chief U.S. prosecutor brought against German leaders at
the Nuremberg trials.
The importance of the Supreme Court's decision, however, is that a legal decision
by America's highest court has ruled Bush to be in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
There are many reasons to impeach Bush. His flagrant disregard for international
law, U.S. civil liberties, the separation of powers, public opinion, and human
rights associate Bush with the worst tyrants of the 20th century. It is true
that Bush has not yet been able to subvert all the institutions that constrain
his executive power, but he and his band of Federalist Society lawyers have
been working around the clock to eliminate the constraints that the U.S. Constitution
and international law place on executive power.
Republicans are "outraged" that "liberal judges" have prevented
Bush from "protecting us from terrorists." In the U.S. Senate, Majority
Leader Bill Frist said that Republicans will propose legislation to enable Bush
to get around the Supreme Court's decision. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) already
had a bill ready. What sense does it make to talk about "liberal opposition"
when liberal Republicans like Specter are falling all over themselves to kowtow
Americans are going to have to decide which is the greater threat: terrorists,
or the Republican Party's determination to shred American civil liberties and
the separation of powers in the name of executive power and the "war on
The rest of the world has already reached a decision. A Harris Poll recently
conducted for the Financial Times found that the populations of our European
allies – Britain, France, Italy and Spain – view the United States as the greatest
threat to global stability.
A Pew Foundation survey released the same week found that 60 percent of the
British believe that Bush has made the world less safe and that 79 percent of
the Spanish oppose Bush's war on terror.
Republicans and conservatives equate civil liberties with homosexual marriage,
abortion, racial quotas, flag burning, banning of school prayer, and crime resulting
from a lax punishment of criminals. This is partly the fault of the ACLU and
left-wingers, who go to extremes to make a point. But it is also the fault of
conservatives, who believe that their government is incapable of evil deeds.
In their dangerous and ill-founded belief, conservatives are in total opposition
to the Founding Fathers, who went to the trouble of writing the Constitution
and the Bill of Rights in order to protect us from our government. Most conservatives
believe that they do not need constitutional protections, because they "are
not doing anything wrong." Conservatives have come to this absurd conclusion
despite the Republicans' decision to sell out the Bill of Rights for the sake
of temporary power.
A number of important books have recently been published that decry America's
decaying virtue. In Lawless
World, the distinguished British jurist Philippe Sands documents the
destruction by George Bush and Tony Blair of the system of international law
put in place by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. In The
Peace of Illusions, Christopher Layne documents the American drive for
global hegemony that threatens the world with war and destruction. Americans
are enjoying a sense of power with little appreciation of where it is leading
Congress has collapsed in the face of Bush's refusal to abide by statutory
law and his "signing statements," by which Bush asserts his independence
of U.S. law. Bush has done what he can to turn the Supreme Court into a rubber
stamp of his unaccountable power by placing John Roberts and Samuel Alito on
the bench. Though much diminished by these appointments, the Court found the
strength to rise up in opposition to Bush's budding tyranny.
Amazingly, on the very same day in England, where our individual rights originated,
the High Court struck down Tony Blair's "anti-terrorism" laws as illegal
breaches of the human rights of suspects. As with the Bush regime, the Blair
regime tried to justify its illegality on the grounds of "protecting the
public," but a far larger percentage of the British population than the
American understands that the erosion of civil liberty is a greater threat to
their safety than terrorists.
Thus, in the two lands most associated with civil liberties, courts have struck
down the tyrannical acts of the corrupt executive. Perhaps the fact that courts
have reaffirmed the rule of law will give hope and renewed strength to the friends
of liberty to withstand the assaults on freedom that are the hallmarks of the
Bush and Blair regimes. On the other hand, the two tyrants might ignore the
courts as they have statutory law.
What's to stop them?