The Talking Dog

November 20, 2008, The Constitution Strikes Back

In an unexpected (to me, anyway) ruling, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. ordered the release of 5 (out of 6 litigating) Bosnian/Algerian detainees now held at Guantanamo Bay, granting their habeas corpus petitions. Judge Leon is actually the second judge to order detainees released. Judge Ricardo Urbina previously granted an ostensibly uncontested petition by a group of Chinese nationals who the government conceded were "not enemy combatants," just that they had no rights anyway, and the government got a stay from an appellate court. [The plight of the Uighurs is discussed in my interview with Buz Eisenberg.]

Today, however, marks the issuance (by Judge Leon) of the first habeas corpus writ after the government contested the merits of the petition. Judge Leon directed the government to undertake diplomatic efforts as to where to send the detainees; the government might consider, oh, Bosnia, from where the CIA ostensibly kidnapped these men in the first place (albeit with the connivance of the Bosnian government, under a wee bit of American pressure). Just saying.

Amazingly, Judge Leon is not only "no liberal," he was a George W. Bush appointee and previously was associated with arch-villains David Addington and Dick Cheney at the House Iran Contra Committee back in the '80's; so for Judge Leon of all people to have issued this writ is even more astounding. Well, go figure.

Today's ruling and Judge Urbina's earlier ruling (the latter under appeal) means that a wee bit over 20 detainees have now been ordered released (more, of course, than the number facing military commission charges), though,of course, none have yet been released.

The team at WilmerHale is to be commended for their tireless efforts to achieve this day; now we'll see if the logjam is broken, and more of these cases proceed to writs granted, so that other lawyers working tirelessly for similar results, many of whom have been interviewed on this very blog, can also see their clients' ultimate judicial vindication and freedom.

Will the government seek more dilatory tactics to delay the freedom of these men whom it has now been adjudged to be holding wrongly? That certainly IS how you bet.

I'll get you, Kirk!

More likely (and this IS how you bet) the Bush Administration, like Kahn up there, will cry out: "From hell's heart I stab at thee."


Wow. The TD decries the continuing unlawful detention of those around the world, and Mukasey suffers an "incident." Connection? I wonder.

Posted by Just Wondering at November 21, 2008 11:33 AM

Last I looked, neither Ricardo Montalban, nor his alter egos Kahn and Mr. Rourk, nor the kingly we, had any particular grudge or ill-wishes towards Atty.Gen. Mukasey (for whom, as you know, we had the utmost respect back when he was a judge here in New York).

Although we may disagree with him politically and certainly do disagree with the legal positions taken by his Department, especially in the detainee area, we wish him a full and speedy recovery from whatever his ailment is.

Posted by the talking dog at November 21, 2008 12:06 PM

Your post heading of the day was "The Constitution Strikes Back."

Posted by Just Wondering at November 21, 2008 12:55 PM

Oh, JW, I think you're capable of distinguishing a rhetorical device from a literal one... oh, never mind...

Posted by the talking dog at November 21, 2008 1:33 PM

In all fairness, however TD, you did mix your metaphors. "The Constitution Strikes Back" and then a picture and reference to a Star Trek movie.

Posted by dms at November 21, 2008 2:58 PM

You mixed your sci fi media too. The Empire from Star Wars struck back. The only time anyone struck in Star Trek was when Spock got upset or had the urges. And since you brought up sci fi, you should check out the movie "Scanners." Maybe you have a power you didn't realize you had.

Posted by Just Wondering at November 21, 2008 4:57 PM

To change topic, why is Mr. Change Obama singing the Paul Simon song "50 Ways to Recreate the Clinton Administration?"

Posted by Just Wondering at November 21, 2008 4:59 PM

Ah... but Zenmaster O. is re-creating the best of the Clinton Administration without its most important yet most dysfunctional element: Bill Clinton. This is the Democrat All-Star Team; no complaints from me.

And on my blog, I'll mix as many metaphors as I feel like. Live long and prosper. And may the force be with you.

Posted by the talking dog at November 21, 2008 5:52 PM

"Best of the Clinton Administration?" Holder? Hillary? C'mon. You've been drinking too much Jawa Juice. At least you didn't rename your hame "Obama Manor".

Posted by Just Wondering at November 22, 2008 9:49 AM

The perfect remains the enemy of the good; the obsession with who's manning the oars is all the press has to focus on, so it's all many others focus on... but the reality is that who's steering the boat is what ultimately matters more, and thus far, Obama's judgment has been sound so far even as others may have quesitoned it. The guy won't even be in office for another 59 days.

You didn't like Holder? Should Obama have brought his boss Janet Reno back instead? As to Hillary... my own skepticism is on record; still, Obama must have something in mind by going with her. I guess we'll have to sit back and see just what that is. Let's be real: if he picks "new people," we accuse him of having the equivalent of Carter's "Georgia Mafia." So when instead he goes for experienced Washington hands, he's "replicating the Clinton Administration". In short, nothing he does is satisfactory. I get that. I'm sure Obama gets it. Neither he, nor I, care.

Posted by the talking dog at November 22, 2008 12:09 PM

The thought from the non-Obama believers is that if he were truly for change, and not a neo-Clintonista, Hillary would be no part of his administration. As to Holder, he okayed the last minute Marc Rich pardon. But, hey, with the Best and Brightest assembling for post 1/20, together with a Democratic-controlled Congress, things will get better from ..... Day One.

Posted by Just Wondering at November 22, 2008 1:23 PM

Day One?
Where I have I heard that before?

Posted by Steamed Crab at November 25, 2008 5:18 PM

That was Ricardo Montalban?
I thought it was Rod Stewart.

Posted by Steamed Crab at November 25, 2008 5:20 PM