Friday, January 28, 2005

The fox and the henhouse

Marty Lederman is on the case of an evasive president who won't give a straightforward answer to questions about torture.

In a press conference on December 20, he did give an answer: "We are a nation of laws."

Question: "[H]ow concerned are you by the reports of torture--to use your word, the 'interminable' delays to justice, for the detainees held in Guantanamo, and how much that damages America's reputation as a nation which stands for liberty and justice internationally?"


Look, we are a nation of laws and to the extent that people say, well, America is no longer a nation of laws--that does hurt our reputation. But I think it's an unfair criticism. As you might remember, our courts have made a ruling, they looked at the jurisdiction, the right of people in Guantanamo to have habeas review, and so we're now complying with the court's decisions. We want to fully vet the court decision, because I believe I have the right to set up military tribunals. And so the law is working to determine what Presidential powers are available and what's not available.

Not long after, Bush abruptly renominated 20 failed judicial candidates. This attempt at "total victory," said the Washington Post, "will only ensure that the war goes on." (The political war, not the other one, though the line isn't all that clear.) Sen. Schumer said, "This opening shot shows he will only be happy if every judge is approved, which is not what the Founding Fathers intended."

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