Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Another Dope Slap for Dubya

You know it's a bad day for Bush when the judge delivers a lecture along with the ruling. Appeals Court Slams Administration on Padilla Detention

A U.S. appeals court, acting in the case of alleged "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla, today rejected the administration's move to avoid another Supreme Court review of its powers of detention, blasting the government in unusually blunt terms for its behavior in the case which, it said, may have significantly damaged "its credibility before the courts." [...] ...J. Michael Luttig, a conservative often mentioned on the administration's short list for the U.S. Supreme Court... said the government's actions created the appearance "that the government may be attempting to avoid" Supreme Court review in a matter of "especial national importance." He also suggested that the government's actions in the Padilla case may possibly have had negative consequences for "the public perception of the war on terror" and "also for the government's credibility before the courts in litigation ancillary to that war.
Maybe it's just my nasty suspicious mind, but I can't help wondering about the real reason for the court's wrath over Bush's shamelessly hypocritical maneuverings. Excerpts from the decision seem not so much to express outrage over the shameless hypocrisy as to reveal annoyance that Bush may have undermined his claims of unlimited executive power as Commander in Chief.
The government's behavior, Luttig said in conclusion, has "left the impression that the government may even have come to the belief that the principle in reliance upon which it has detained Padilla for this long time, that the President possesses the authority to detain enemy combatants who enter this country for the purpose of attacking America and its citizens from within, can, in the end, yield to expediency with little or no cost to its conduct of the war against terror -- an impression we would have thought the government likewise could ill afford to leave extant. "And these impressions have been left, we fear, at what may ultimately prove to be substantial cost to the government's credibility before the courts, to whom it will one day need to argue again in support of a principle of assertedly like importance and necessity to the one that it seems to abandon today.
That sure sounds to me like, "Look, you've got a good thing going, don't blow it by being so bloody obvious that you don't believe your own legal arguments will hold up!" Whatever message Judge Luttig was hoping to send to Bush, I wonder whether the Supreme Court will pay particular attention to the decision's repeated conclusion that Bush has undermined his own credibility in the Padilla case.
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