Sunday, April 29, 2007


Impeach the President

We need to impeach the president of the Colorado Bar Association, Elizabeth Starrs, for her legal idiocy in today's combined Sunday paper. She wants us to extend the habeas corpus writ to the Islamic illegal combatants captured and held outside the United States. I disagree with Ms. Starrs politically, but that's not what's causing me to write this. You would expect the leader of the bar association to be able to read a statute or a case and understand the central issue. Ms. Starrs, unfortunately, displays a rather stunning inability to do this basic lawyer task.

She writes: In 2004, in Rasul v. Bush the Supreme Court held that our Constitution applies to the detainees in Guantanamo Bay. The case did no such thing. It recognized that there was a statutory grant of jurisdiction contained specifically in 28 U.S.C. Section 2241. In a contemporaneous decision, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court implicitly held that habeas corpus was not a constitutional right for everyone detained by Americans, and that even an American detainee's due process rights to contest the detention were merely to have the question decided before a neutral tribunal (not a federal court).

That's not the end of President Starr's inability to know what she's talking about. She writes that after the Rasul decision: ...Congress tried to circumvent that decision by passing the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Circumvent? The Supreme Court in Rasul held that there was a statutory jurisdiction which allowed the writ so the people's elected representatives, in the House and Senate, voted to take that grant of jurisdiction away. That's how things work under the Constitution. It is only because she is clueless about the very core of the Hamdi and Rasul decisions is she talking about "circumvention." One man's circumvention is another man's representative government at work.

She's not finished: There is no meaningful process to challenge that designation [of "unlawful enemy combatant"]. Yeah, I guess there isn't, if you ignore the process of Combatant Status Review Tribunals and the protections of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, a law Ms. Starrs cited, but apparently hasn't taken the time to read.

She also complains that the prisoners can't obtain a "statement of the charges" against them. What? These are guys we or our allies captured waging war against us; we're not 'charging' them; we're not even punishing them for taking up arms against us; we are merely holding them, as we do with real POWs, so that they don't return to the battlefield (as several released from Gitmo have done) and continue trying to kill us or our allies. Charges? We don't need no stinkin' charges. This woman's a maroon.

She points out that there is current legislation trying to restore habeas corpus rights to the illegal combatants. Yeah, good luck with that. The Democrats have a slim majority now but not near enough to override a veto. She writes: The Colorado Bar Association supports these efforts. No we don't; I'm a member and I don't. She does. She continues: This is not a partisan issue. Of course it is. The bleeding heart core of the left doesn't believe war is being waged against us and wants to treat it as if al Qaeda were merely an international crime syndicate. We right thinking types know war when we see it and we were looking at it during 9/11 et seq.

Wait, there's more; she types: It is true that some personal liberties have been limited in the last five years in the name of national security. Oh yeah? Name one that doesn't involve boarding an airplane.

The U.S. Constitution was established to protect individuals' rights. Yeah, Americans' individual rights or those of people in America. It is not a world government charter. She continues: Those rights mean little if they can be cast aside when the going gets tough. Perhaps Ms. Starr would do well actually to read our Constitution. I would direct her attention to Article I, Section 9 which states: The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. Isn't that casting aside an individual right, the very right she's writing about so poorly, when the going gets tough? And notice it's the 'privilege' to the Writ not the 'right' in the Constitution.

Ms. Starrs writes, just before her big fuzzy thinking finish, that: We are not naive. (Au contraire, I can name one person who is). There are bad guys at Gitmo, but, we also know that some of those being held may not be "enemy combatants." (Emphasis added). What? You know there may? I know that Ms. Starrs may like to set puppies on fire in her spare time, although the probability of that is extremely low. She looks like a very pleasant person in her photo. I'm just pointing out the meaningless of combining the certainty of the word 'know' with the tenuousness of 'may;' the end result is that a sentence employing both words is pure speculation.

OK , this is getting a little long. She writes: Our military personnel on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan...have a right to expect that we will follow the applicable law when we are dealing with these prisoners.

Are we not following the applicable law of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which was held constitutional by the DC Circuit court and the Supreme Court denied cert? Does she mean that applicable law?

I am embarrassed to be represented by a lawyer with this poor of analysis skills. Impeachment. Now. (Just kidding--poor analysis skills is not a high crime or misdemeanor).


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