Retired judges: Bush is violating basic Constitutional rights

Nine retired federal judges accused the Bush administration and Congress of trying to deprive detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of the most basic legal right.

Legislation under debate on Capitol Hill would strip federal courts of the power to hear detainees’ challenges of their treatment and indefinite detention at the Guantanamo Bay.

"Depriving the courts of habeas jurisdiction will jeopardize the judiciary’s ability to ensure that executive detentions are not grounded on torture or other abuse," the nine wrote Thursday in a letter to Congress.

Congress and the Bush administration would be skating "on thin constitutional ice" in depriving courts of their power to hear Guantanamo detainees, the letter added.

The retired judges said federal courts have long balanced the rights of defendants against the need to protect classified information vital to the nation’s security.

Most of the attention in the debate over detainee rights at Guantanamo Bay has focused on how to conduct military commission trials that meet constitutional standards. Plans call for trying a few detainees, while the remainder, more than 450 in all, remain in indefinite detention.

By focusing on military commissions, the White House and Congress "have chosen to address the tail rather than the dog, and the result is that the Constitution is getting bitten," Eric M. Freedman said in an interview. He is a Hofstra University professor of constitutional law and a consultant to the legal team representing the Guantanamo detainees.

The nine retirees who signed the letter are appeals court judges John Gibbons, Shirley Hufstedler, Nathaniel Jones, Timothy Lewis, William Norris, George Pratt, Lee Sarokin, Patricia Wald and U.S. District Judge William Sessions.

© 2006 The Associated Press

27 Responses to "Retired judges: Bush is violating basic Constitutional rights"

  1. Arlo J. Thudpucker  September 16, 2006 at 1:38 am

    Ahem.

    There’s about 50 retired US federal judges.

    9 of 50 is a significant percentage.

  2. Honesty Now  September 16, 2006 at 3:59 am

    To Keith –

    Because some factions continually raise the false allegation that it is not. Read the GC carefully – it applies to a very specific group of people, in specific circumstances. These include UNIFORMED soldiers of a NATION, for instance. It does NOT include spies, it does NOT include those fighters hiding in civilian garb, it does NOT include those mingling in civilian populations as civilians until they see a moment to strike, etc, etc. These people, these actions, have NEVER been covered under any equivalent of the GC, nor the GC itself.

    The detainees are lebelled as such because they are NOT POW’s. POW’s are uniformed soldiers of a foreign nation who have been captured. Part of the definition in the GC of a ‘soldier’, BTW, is that they are ‘openly armed’, and “…identified by a large recognizable flag or symbol, identifiable at a distance’. Terrorists in civilian clothes with suicide vests, or RPG’s hidden in the nearest private residence or school or hospital, are NOT covered.

    These terrorists are NOT ‘covered by American law as if they were American citizens’. They do NOT have ‘American Constitutional Rights’.

    As to Presidential mantras – just keep saying ‘I did NOT have sex with that woman, I did NOT have sex with that woman…’

    To Arlo – I find your number ’50′ totally incredible, as in ‘not deserving of credit’. There is NO WAY IN HELL that there are only ~ 50 retired Federal judges in this country. Not the slightest chance.

  3. Honesty Now  September 16, 2006 at 4:26 am

    Arlo – more info for you

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_5_46/ai_60897679

    “The new proposal would apply to the more than 2,000 active and retired federal judges,…”

    Minus

    http://www.afj.org/judicial/about/frequently.html

    “….At the moment, there are about 862 seats for federal judges ……”

    Thusly, we have > 1,100 retired Federal Judges.

    As I stated, your ’50′ number is BS.

    9 out of 50 is almost 20 percent. 9 out of 1,100 is

    “….At the moment, there are about 862 seats for federal judges ……”

    Thusly, we have > 1,100 retired Federal Judges.

    As I stated, your ’50′ number is BS.

    9 out of 50 is almost 20 percent. 9 out of 1,100 is

  4. chad  September 16, 2006 at 6:04 am

    Honesty now, 1100 is a hell of a lot less than 100,000. You are an idiot.

  5. keith  September 16, 2006 at 6:08 am

    Sorry, Honestly Now…but I don’t buy your argument.

    Any way you cut it, just like the guerillas in Korea and Vietnam were held as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions, Bush and his ilk have been treating these people all along as enemy combatants. By default, that makes them prisoners of war under the International Law of Armed Conflict, as they are now being held under US military control on a US military installation. Hanging the “detainee” moniker on them is simply yet another sorry neocon smokescreen to try and cover their own posteriors down the road when the excrement finally hits the fan…as it is (thankfully!) now starting to do.

    Or, to put it another way, if these people aren’t enemy combantants, then why go to all the trouble to incarcerate, guard, and feed them on a military base? And why did the CIA feel the need to shuffle them in and out of foreign jails (in secret no less) if there was nothing to hide? Why not simply throw them all into a civilian jail somewhere and be done with it?

    As I said….if it walks like a duck……..

  6. Honesty Now  September 16, 2006 at 8:51 am

    Chad – thanks for exemplifying the Village Idiot wing of the DemocRat Party. Goodbye.

    Keith – the point so many people miss, is, we are in a new age, dealing with a whole new reality.

    30 years ago, or 60, no one anticipated the day when we would have to have American fighter aircraft on the ready-line prepared to shoot down American planes full of American civilians over America, because of the nature and tactics of the enemy. No one anticipated that they would try to plan things like ‘blow up 10 civilian airliners over the Atlantic’. No one envisioned such possibilities as ‘a small man-portable / truck-portable nuke that could be obtained by terrorists, smuggled into America, and detonated’.

    Further – no one anticipated a trans-national movement ( Islamic Jihadism ) that is not readily localized to one or several nation-states who can be held responsible ( and dealt with in traditional ways ), but rather a free-floating loosely-knit coalition of various groups with a common goal and asymetrical tactics, including ‘hiding among civilian populations’.

    Further – no one anticipated the current ‘rules of engagement’ that we hold ourselves to. No one would ever guess that when we locate 150 enemy fighters in a close group, and have them in gun-sight, we would decline to pull the trigger because they are standing in a cemetary.

    Further – no one anticipated the insane extremes that would be read into the GC by the leftists, and the bizarre acceptance their ludicrous positions would find. I read the other day that there was some concern as to whether feeding the detainees MRE’s ( current stock, not out-dated, the same chow our troops get ) might be considered ‘torture’ as compard to ‘hot fresh meals’. These days, if you pick up a certain book with the wrong hand, that’s torture. If you play loud music, that’s torture. If you don’t keep it nice and comfy for them, that’s torture. If they see a nekid woman, that’s torture.

    These things were never the intent of the GC, and were never anticipated by the signatories. And when you add them all up – they are in a whole different universe than anything the GC ever thought of.

    So, in fact, it does NOT ‘walk like a duck’, etc. Rather, it walks like some critter that had not been invented when the GC was written, and this critter lives in a world the GC never imagined, and does things the GC never dreamed.

  7. keith  September 16, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    Honestly Now,

    Your logic as regards the “ancient” Geneva Conventions may also help explain the “progressive” logic of Bush and Co who now apparently want to circumvent our US Constitution and all that it says as just a “godddamned piece of paper”.

    I mean, after all, if we ARE in a “whole new age and dealing with a whole new reality”, then all that stuff in there about protecting our rights to privacy as citizens and our right to due process under law now needs to go right out the window as well. Our founding fathers never dreamed of the world we now live in and the challenges we now face, so maybe it, too, needs to “go”. And, in their day, I’m sure those same founding fathers, many of whom had previously signed the Declaration of Independence were considered “terrorists” to their brethren in England as well, for they, too, were trying to rid their homeland of an occupying army.

    The reason we have all those fighter aircraft now standing at the ready to shoot down civilian airliners is that WE have fomented such hatred among other peoples of the world that we have no choice but to now abandon these long-sacred precepts in the name of “homeland security” and, in the process, turn our once free nation into an armed camp.

    I’m firmly convinced that if the United States hadn’t been gallivanting all around the world in the last several decades to invade and then occupy other sovereign nations at will to “further our national interests” (at the obvious expense of theirs) then there would be little or no need for their citizens to now resort to terrorism against us in an effort to get us to leave.

    These people have no standing armies. They have no squadrons of fighter planes, or tanks or howitzers or aircraft carriers. So, quite naturally, they are now resorting to the only weapon (terrorism) they have at their disposal that seems to be working. We (and those governments we are also underwriting in the region, such as the Government of Israel) are illegal occupiers of their sovereign territory. And, it would now appear that, at least for the moment (and despite all of the high-tech hardware that we are throwing into the fray) their “terrorists” (patriots?) seem to at least be holding their own.

    You are absolutely correct…we ARE in a different world. But, sadly, I believe it is a world that, to a large extent, our own imperial ambitions have largely shaped.

    We have apparently not yet learned that invading another’s sovereign territory to force our own style of “democracy” down people’s throats with a gun pointed at their head simply doesn’t work. And then we compound the problem by arrogantly wondering why their people fight back.

    Terrorism is a symptom. Imperialism is the problem…OUR imperialism. As Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us”.

  8. LoudPatriot  September 16, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    To Honesty Now :

    1. You need to read the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (you seem to have the same opinions as the Nazis)

    2, fas·cism
    a) often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
    b) a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

    The essence of fascism is that government should be the master, not the servant, of the people.

    3. “When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny.” — Thomas Jefferson

    4.”The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” James Madison

    5. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state.

    6.”The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious, and the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.” Winston Churchill

    7.14 signs of Fascism
    1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
    2. Disdain for Human Rights
    3. Enemies/Scapegoats used as Unifying Cause
    4. Supremacy of the Military
    5. Rampant Sexism
    6. Controlled Mass Media
    7. Obsession with National Security
    8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
    9. Corporate Power is Protected
    10. Labor Power is Suppressed
    11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
    12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
    13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    14. Fraudulent Elections

    Heil Bush

  9. Honesty Now  September 16, 2006 at 6:18 pm

    Loudpatriot –

    If you had said anything that resembled a factually based coherent thought, I would respond to it.

    Sadly, however, you didn’t, and thus our little dialog must end.

    Have fun with your mindless slander.

  10. LoudPatriot  September 16, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    Honesty Now

    If you weren’t so sad you would be funny.

    Heil Bush

  11. LoudPatriot  September 16, 2006 at 7:00 pm

    Honesty Now

    I know, I know. you resemble everthing listed and the truth hurts.

    Heil Bush

  12. freethunk  September 16, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    QUACK QUACK QUACK

  13. Arlo J. Thudpucker  September 16, 2006 at 10:07 pm

    Yo, “Honesty”!

    See: http://www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/publications/bar_bult/2003/july03/payhike.htm

    “The departure rate of federal judges in recent years is alarming. Between 1990 and April 2003, 77 federal judges either resigned or retired. While 16 retired, 51 left for private practice. In the last 28 months, the ABA reports that 22 federal judges have resigned. This is an alarming national trend, and it is largely attributed to the current level of judicial compensation.”

    You will notice that, in 13 years, sixteen (16) federal judges have retired. A little over 1 per year.

    You will also notice that while some federal judges may sit on a bench for their lifetimes, they are not immortal.

    They croak. Which moves them from “retired” to “deceased”.

    So, the number of 50 retired federal judges stands.

  14. Honesty Now  September 17, 2006 at 1:41 am

    Arlo –

    I suggest you tell the folks who are writing about the other 1,100 LIVING retired ( from the bench, although possibly emplyed elsewhere ) about that.

    Or better yet, do some research and find something that actually supports your number. Your post above does not.

  15. Honesty Now  September 17, 2006 at 1:48 am

    Keith – just for reference – a fairly detailed ( and, I might add, wonderfully stated ) post of mine in response to your got the old ‘being held for moderator’ message, and hasn’t shown up yet. I have no idea when / if it will. It’s Doug’s board, so it’s up to him.

  16. keith  September 17, 2006 at 3:40 am

    Honestly Now,

    …And I’d be most interested to read it! I hope it eventually shows up.

  17. Honesty Now  September 18, 2006 at 1:19 am

    Keith – looks like the mods ate it. Dunno why – as our discourse has been, it was on subject, polite, perhaps even informative, etc, etc. Oh, well.

    FWIW – it’s been fun, I never mind a debate ( even with a misguided liberal :-) ) as long as it doesn’t turn into the usual kindergarten crap that some others here have envinced.

    See ya next time !

  18. keith  September 18, 2006 at 6:52 pm

    Honestly Now:

    Actually, you and others here might be surprised to learn that in many ways, I still consider myself a Conservative. As much as I’m now ashamed to admit it, I was even one of Rush Limbaugh’s confirmed “ditto heads” for many, many years and I agreed with him most of the time.

    However, I’ve since grown increasingly disgusted with both him (for his blind allegiance to President Bush and the Republicans) as well as with the dogma now emanating from BOTH mainstream political parties. These days, I find I’m closer to calling myself a Libertarian than a Conservative. However, I’m anything BUT a Liberal!

    That is, I guess I’m now somewhere in the middle. Fortunately, there ARE other political philosophies out there besides the pabulum the “Republicrats” are now dishing up for all us to blindly follow. So, I did my homework and I found that my views on most major issues in the world simply don’t mesh with a “one sizes fits all”, “with us or against us” political label.

    I’ve also learned to be very careful not to hang simplistic political labels on other people based solely on their posts (or the political positions they may seem to espouse) in Internet forums. All too often, my first impressions have been totally wrong.

    That’s because, contrary to what Mr. Bush and his cronies now seem to want us all to believe, we humans are FAR too complex for our political philosophies and our outlook on the rest of the world to be completely “black” or “white”.

  19. liz  September 15, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    It’s so nice these judges worry about the inmates at Gitmo. I wish they cared about all the rights Americans are losing at home. I lost the right to healthcare last week and I have a SPIROCHETE illness. Republicans are recreating TUSKEGEE. Will my fellow citizens let Bush lock up Borrelia patients since Bird flu never came and he wants so badly to lock someone up with illness, hence his emergency quarantine powers. BUSH IS A DANGER TO SELF AND OTHERS>

  20. Honesty Now  September 15, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    Liz – what ‘right to health care’ do you think you have ? You think that’s in teh Constitution or the BOR ? Point out the article !

    And BTW – there are MANY THOUSANDS of ‘retired Federal Judges’ in this country, and what 9 of them say is not dispositive of what the OVERALL opinion of the group might be.

    Hell, just look at Doug’s ‘famous quotes’ – out of the ( at a guess) million + phsychiatrists in this country, he finds ONE who claims to have diagnosed The President, via long distance and TV shows, as somehow ‘mad’, and he presents that as some kind of ‘fact’.

    I bet if I tried hard enough, I coiuld find some moonbat shrink somehwere who was willing to agree that I might be the Second Coming of Christ – but that’s not gonna let me walk on water, is it ??

  21. kasinca  September 15, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    Honesty Now:
    I find it alarming when I read comments like yours, blindly discounting what judges have to say about the constitution, so that you can defend the drunken AWOL coward in the White House, no matter how out of control he seems to be. If he is so upstanding, why does he need to skirt the constitution which has served us through much more than is war for profits of the miltary industrial complex and oil companies. Our country needs three equal branches of government and we need it now, more than ever…we have an idiot in the White House being controlled by a dirty trickster and satan himself, that would be Rove and Cheney.

  22. Grover Syck  September 15, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    Does the constitution give the congress the power to tell the court it cannot review any legislation that they may pass? My interpretation of the separation of powers was that the courts had the right to review ALL legislation. Only constitutional amendments were out side their review.

  23. Grover Syck  September 15, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    Does the constitution give the congress the power to tell the court it cannot review any legislation that they may pass? My interpretation of the separation of powers was that the courts had the right to review ALL legislation. Only constitutional amendments were out side their review.

  24. twilighttime  September 15, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    As a FORMER Republican I never thought I’d live to hear the US military openly stating their wish to use military weapons on the US population. If you think these new weapons are nonlethal as lied about check out tazar deaths. Thanks God we still have 9 moral, decent retired judges who oppose secret tribunals, secret trials, secret witnesses and seek to leave the USA a nation STILL UNDER LAW instead of a cabalistic dictatorship. Impeach Bush. Dump Republicans from power over both houses for a minimum of a decade in retribution for what they have condoned, then dump all incumbents from both parties who have voted for this insanity–attempting to eradicate The Constitution of the United States of America. The alternative is we will no longer be a nation of law, we will be under a dictatorship. This attempted coup of American government being supported by people in both parties, albeit more republicans than democrats on the whole, constitutes treason. Americans deserve better than a president and 535 people in congress who’ve sold their souls and votes to corporations and who refuse to do one thing to promote our nation and our citizens’ wellbeing and wishes. We need to clean house of the corrupt and to remember Benedict Arnold “only” sold out to the British tactics for taking west point while our current crop of “corruption in office” is actively selling out our nation, bent on destroying its basis in law, and eradicating all our liberties. Clean house of every last corrupt sell out.

  25. Honesty Now  September 15, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    Kasinca – there are ~ 300,000,000 people in this country. At a wild guess, at least 100,000 of them are retired Federal Judges. I do not find 9 out of 100,000, or 9 out of 300,000,000 , to be conclusive. What is REALLY alarming is your convenient new categorization of these 9 as now just ‘judges’, implying ‘all judges’, or ‘a majority of judges’, when in fact it is 9 individuals that you are referencing. Anything to advance your bias, though, huh ?

    Then of course you have to revert to pure and simple slander, such as ‘drunken AOL coward’.

    Then you go to the currently popular ‘he’s skirting the Constitution’, which opinoin you base on the findings of one left-wing liberal judge who was jury-shopped by the ACLU to acheive their desired verdict. A verdict which is , in the legal community, being universally disparaged for it’s poor quality and lack of substance, both by people who agree with it, and those who disagree with it.

    Then, for your grand finish, you trot out the tired old fantasy “we have an idiot in the White House being controlled by a dirty trickster and satan himself, that would be Rove and Cheney.”, figuring that if you help repeat that baseless whole-cloth lie enough times, that might make it true. But it won’t.

    Grover – you ask :

    Does the constitution give the congress the power to tell the court it cannot review any legislation that they may pass? My interpretation of the separation of powers was that the courts had the right to review ALL legislation. Only constitutional amendments were out side their review.

    Yes it does. Read Article 3.

  26. Glenda Sikorski  September 16, 2006 at 12:34 am

    My son is a United States Marine and I say All is fair in War if your Country could lose its Country!

    Glenda in Texas

  27. keith  September 16, 2006 at 12:38 am

    If Mr. Bush’s motives to deny prisoners of war their rights under International law are so “lilly white” (as some people posting here seem to imply) then why does he seem to feel the need to continually assure the world that what he and his minions are doing is permitted under the International Law of Armed Conflict?

    It would seem to me that if it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, then maybe, just maybe, it’s a duck…despite his increasingly vehement assurances to the contrary.

    I’ve always wondered why he and his cabal chose to incarcerate the “detainees” (and label them as such) from his trumped-up “war on terror” on non-US soil. Was that just a coincidence or was it done so as to help make it that much more difficult for them to be held and tried under US law? Under our laws, those accused of such crimes routinely have a right to know the evidence being used against them, along with other such habeas corpus guarantees.

    Richard Nixon repeatedly and publicly insisted that he “wasn’t a crook”. It would seem that we are now hearing much the same mantra emanating from the mouth of “King George” Bush.

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