Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Win, lose AND draw proposed for Gitmo inmates

National Security Adviser Steve Hadley and Defense Secretary Bob Gates are proposing a new tripartite classification of Guantanamo inmates as part of shutting it down. But, the devil’s in the details of this arrangement, which would simply deny due process to a smaller portion of the Gitmo population:

Essentially, the administration would propose legislation that would result in dividing the estimated 375 Guantánamo detainees into three legal categories. The one that would call for legislative action would include detainees like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 2001 attacks, and others whose trials would risk exposing intelligence operations. This group, estimated at two dozen to 50, would be placed indefinitely in military brigs on American soil.

A second group would also be moved to the United States, most likely to face trial in military courts, but perhaps with more legal guarantees than in the current military tribunal system.

The third, and largest, group would consist of detainees to be released to their home countries.

I, like Spencer Ackerman, can’t see the status of the first group passing serious legal scrutiny. Assuming, as he says, this is just a sop to Cheney, why would Cheney go along with it, unless he doesn’t believe that actually is the case?

As far as getting Democratic support to rewrite the Military Commissions Act, I can’t see smart Democrats taking any action before the Supreme Court rules this fall on its constitutionality, unless they get something that comes close to ex parte advance contact on a probable ruling.

So, in my opinion, I don’t think it’s likely we’ll have major legislative movement on this issue before the SCOTUS ruling.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.