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Geneva Convention Rights for Al-Qaeda By: Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, June 30, 2006

The Supreme Court decided Thursday by a 5-3 vote that in effect granted al- Qaeda terrorists the same rights as American soldiers. (Chief Justice Roberts recused himself because of a previous decision on the case while at the appellate court level; Thursday’s ruling overturned his decision.) Judge Clarence Thomas, reading a dissent from the bench for the first time in more than 15 years on the Court, scathingly criticized the majority for a decision that he said would sorely hamper the president’s ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy.

In a stark reflection of the Left’s inability to comprehend the core facts of this war, including even the simplest grasp of the nature of the enemy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said vacuously that today’s decision is a rebuke of the Bush administration’s detainee policies and a reminder of our responsibility to protect both the American people and our Constitutional rights. Can the woman who may be the next Speaker of the House really think that extending Constitutional safeguards for imprisoned Guantanamo terrorists somehow protects the American people? Or is she simply so blinded by leftist ideology and a pathological hatred for George Bush that she is willing to support Constitutional protections for enemy combatants in order to defeat him?

Conversations with senior Department of Justice and Department of Defense officials later on Thursday afternoon revealed concern but by no means panic. This decision deals more with process, a senior Justice official explained. It does not in any way affect the president’s ability to confine these enemy combatants to Guantanamo and in no manner does the decision imply or state that closure of the facility is necessary or desirable. Nor, the point was made, does the decision necessarily have an impact on most of the detainees. Only those who are being charged with war crimes, capital offenses, or offenses that could result in lengthy confinement beyond the conclusion of the war are affected by the decision.

Are the government’s attorneys upset by the SCOTUS decision? You bet. They stand strongly on the position that foreign terrorists do not deserve the same levels of protection that American citizens do, especially American soldiers – or even foreign saints. We were told by the Court to make the protections for the detainees in question more like a military court martial, a senior Defense official explained. Others at the meeting bitingly criticized the Court for being more concerned with terrorists than with our own soldiers, a sentiment clearly reflected in Pelos’s empty-headed remarks, gushing over Constitution protection for those who are sworn to destroy it.

The positive part of the decision came from Judge Stephen Breyer remarks that said nothing prevents the president from returning to Congress to seek the authority he believes necessary to carry out the military commissions. Was the Court intrusive on Executive Branch privileges? It would appear so to many, although the decision was far from the nail in the coffin for the idea that the president can set up these trials, that Barbara Olshansky claimed it to be. Olshansky is legal director of the hard-Left, New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, an organization that represents about 300 Guantanamo detainees.

Funding for the CCR allowing them to give pro bono representation to Guantanamo terrorists such as Salim Ahmed Hamden, the plaintiff in this case, is derived from a number of suspect sources. Analysts claim that CCR funding includes large amounts from Gulf and Saudi sheiks as well as governments known to sponsor terrorism. Hamden was Osama bin Laden’s driver and bodyguard, a position in a terrorist organization that is given only to highly reliable and totally committed jihadists, not someone seeking work to feed his family, as Hamden claimed. Nonetheless, Hamden is hailed as a victim of American fascist imperialism by the CCR and the Legal Left, cited as an example of the many innocents confined at Guantanamo.

So what does the Court decision mean for Americans, practically speaking? It does not mean that any of these terrorists now held at Guantanamo will be arbitrarily released or brought before a left-wing judge and set out on bail anytime soon. It does mean that military commissions, being conducted on ten detainees charged with war crimes, including Australian David Hicks and Hamden himself, will be once more placed on hold. The irony is that defense attorneys for these men decry that they have been held without trial and yet these same attorneys spent years and millions of dollars upsetting the process that the president put into place to give them a fair hearing in the first place.

Thankfully Guantanamo, an essential node in the War on Terror because of its confinement and interrogation capabilities, is to stay intact and fully functioning. In fact the Court did not challenge either the justification for existence of the facility or the notion that interrogations are conducted on the detainees, both issues that defense attorneys sought to get a judgment in their favor. On the Hill, Arizona Senator Kyl and other like-minded, national security Senators are rushing to work with the administration to formulate a bill that would give the president sufficient latitude to deal with our enemies without constant interference from those who would do us harm, including home-grown threats.

Meanwhile, in the field American soldiers consider that they have once again been slapped in the face by American leftists. They have endured the constant pressure of harsh criticism from the left including hysterical allegations of out-of-control brutality, incompetence, and poor morale. Repeatedly they have watched major news media casually release information to the public which, were they to release it, would merit them courts-martial. The Court decision is yet another nail, not in Bush coffin, as the Left wishes it to be, but in the heart of American resolve.

Almost five years past 9/11 and Americans, particularly our soldiers, are as Hugh Hewitt and Mark Steyn succinctly put it - still dealing with a 9/10 judiciary, Congress, and Democratic Party. We won’t lose on the battlefield but have yet to recognize that the real fight is in the media,in public opinion polls, and against slack-minded, overly ambitious politicians that their primary job is protecting America, not winning reelection. We can only hope that the Court can be fixed before it gives away all of our protections.

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Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu has been an Army Green Beret lieutenant colonel, as well as a writer, popular speaker, business executive and farmer. His most recent book is Separated at Birth, about North and South Korea. He returned recently from an embed with soldiers in Iraq and has launched a web site called Support American Soldiers to assist traveling soldiers.

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