Appeals Court: Let the Military Tribunals Begin

In a blow to the Constitution but giving a win to the Bush Administration, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's driver, can be tried by military tribunal at Guantanamo. The opinion is here.(pdf.)

The decision, by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, reversed a lower court's ruling that abruptly halted the first war crimes trials conducted by the United States since the aftermath of World War II. The appeals judges said the Bush administration's plan to try some detainees before military commissions did not violate the Constitution, international law or American military law.

One of his lawyers says,

"Today's ruling... "places absolute trust in the president, unchecked by the Constitution, statutes of Congress and longstanding treaties ratified by the Senate of the United States."

Hamdan's tribunal had started last year when a federal judge halted the proceedings.

Judge Robertson ruled that the military commissions violated the Geneva Conventions, the principal international laws of war, to which the United States is a signatory; violated the Constitution, because, he said, the president did not have the necessary authority from Congress; and violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which, he said, requires that detainees be tried under the same conditions as American soldiers who are court-martialed.

Friday, the Appeals court rejected Robertson's ruling.

Hamdan has said all along that he was merely a driver for bin Laden, not a member of al Qaeda. His lawyers have said:

“A driver, whether he is Hitler’s driver, Martha Stewart’s driver or any other driver, doesn’t necessarily have any knowledge of what’s going on. Driving Osama bin Laden around didn’t kill anybody. ... He has the great misfortune of having chosen a terrible employer, but that doesn’t make him a terrible person.”

Background on the case is here.

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    Re: Appeals Court: Let the Military Tribunals Begi (none / 0) (#1)
    by Darryl Pearce on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:15 PM EST
    Cincinnatus would have known when to step down.