The Supreme Court granted certiorari review in the case of Ali al-Marri, after Padilla, the second most important case of our lives.
Why? Mr. al-Marri, you will recall from our interview with his attorney Jonathan Hafetz, was a legal resident studying at Bradley University in Peoria, IL, when, just like Padilla, was already in the criminal justice system when he was magically declared "an enemy combatant" and held in camera in a military brig in South Carolina, denied any semblance of legal or human rights, and, under every known legal definition of the word, tortured, whether or not a rack or thumbscrews were used.
As I noted in my interview with Mr. Hafetz, years after the Supreme Court rendered our nation a de facto dictatorship by finding a technicality in Padilla to avoid shoving its unlawful detention of a citizen in the face of the Bush Administration, because 2004 was an election year and the Supreme Court did not want to embarrass a Bush Administration that it is widely credited with installing in the first place by giving it "an accountability moment" and so it ducked the matter entirely... finding that improper venue was the highest constitutional value.
Well, better late than never (though one fears too much damage has already been done). Now, at least, the Supreme Court has a chance to weigh in once and for all and close down the 747-sized loophole it left after Padilla... to wit, that Article II of the Constitution allows an executive override of the entire Bill of Rights and the remainder of the Constitution just because the President invokes the magical incantation of "national security". The Bush Administration, btw, is unabashed in continuing to assert that it can pick up anyone, illegal alien, legal resident, tourist, transiter, citizen alike... and deny them charge, trial or even counsel, torture them in endless solitary confinement, and not be legally accountable to anyone, ever, as long as the right magic words are recited.
We can now hope that the Supreme Court will address this, and close this loophole once and for all. Of course, the irony is that the Obama Administration may, once again, prevent the Supreme Court from hearing this critical open question (which is now the law of the 4th Circuit... in VA, MD, and the Carolinas, the USA is a dictatorship... as a matter of law) by doing the right thing and charging al-Marri in court, or releasing him.
What can ya say, other than "Get Hafetz."
Posted by Rajaleaven at December 5, 2008 9:50 PM
TD and I have discussed the extraordinary significance of this case before, and I always find it very grimly amusing that, even though I'm one of those foreigners without rights in the "War on Terror," I find myself truly appalled that the Bush administration has so far got away with extending its tyrannical claims to Americans as well.
Really, this case should go all the way to the Supreme Court, but it may be that, as with Padilla, the Bush administration will escape justice again, al-Marri will be charged in a federal court, and no one will be able to mention the colossal crime of imprisoning al-Marri for five and a half years in solitary confinement without charge or trial. Here's my take on what that means, with some important information about Judge Motz, the principled judge who dared to speak out against the President when al-Marri's case was reviewed in the summer: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2008/12/04/the-last-us-enemy-combatant-the-shocking-story-of-ali-al-marri/
Posted by Andy Worthington at December 6, 2008 6:31 AM