March 26, 2008

Supreme Court Spins US Citizens Out of Justice

The Boopsy Twins
Court skeptical of taking on Iraq cases
Several Justices Express Doubts About Extending Reach of US Courts Into Iraq
Mar 25, 2008 13:11 EST
Several Supreme Court justices expressed strong doubts Tuesday about extending the reach of U.S. courts into Iraq to stop the transfer of two American citizens into Iraqi control.
The skepticism by Chief Justice John Roberts and others came after a lawyer representing the Bush administration argued that U.S. courts cannot intervene in the cases of Mohammad Munaf and Shawqi Omar.
Omar allegedly assisted a terrorist network and Munaf allegedly set up the 2005 kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Baghdad. Both proclaim their innocence and both are Sunni Muslims who say they will be tortured if turned over to the Iraqi government.
The Bush administration's legal position is that the two men are being held by the multinational force in Iraq, of which the U.S. contingent is only a part.
[...] Joseph Margulies, the lawyer for Omar and Munaf, says the two are under the control of the U.S. military and should have access to U.S. courts.
Margulies told the justices that "the buck stops with the United States government when it comes to these detainees."
[...] Responding to concerns expressed by Justice Samuel Alito, Margulies said providing Munaf and Omar the rights to which they are entitled as U.S. citizens would not impact the other 20,000 people in custody in Iraq.
[...] Justice John Paul Stevens rejected Margulies's argument that there is a parallel between the cases of Omar and Munaf and that of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a U.S. citizen seized on the Afghanistan battlefield and later detained at a naval brig in Charleston, S. C.
"A very different place of detention," Stevens said.
The Supreme Court gave Hamdi the right to use U.S. courts to challenge his detention and the Bush administration eventually released Hamdi.

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