Saturday, June 14, 2008

Prisoners without borders

We're coming a bit late to the US Supreme Court judgement that Guantanamo Bay detainees have habeas corpus rights broader than the highly limited appeal given to them by the Bush-McCain Military Commissions Act. The decision incisively gets at one of the paradoxes of the War on Terror, which on the one hand wants to claim that the war is being fought against a stateless entity requiring new instruments that were not used in the past -- while wanting to stick to an entirely traditional interpretation of the constitution as being valid only in the 50 states and territories.

It's usually conservatives hailing the wisdom of a document written over 200 years ago but maybe now they'll see the problem. If they want a new definition of habeas corpus that can survive scrutiny, then pass a new constitutional amendment. Or is it that they think the procedures for passing a new amendment are too cumbersome? Maybe there should first be an amendment to allow future constitutional amendments by popular referendum. Ireland shows how much fun that is!

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