Thursday, July 21, 2005

Club Gitmo (#2) Club Gitmo (#2)

A week or so ago, a three judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that military justice was, essentially, all that was required of the detainees being held at Club Gitmo.

To some extent, this result was a foregone conclusion. The administration, including, notably, AG Gonzales, had done their homework.

The beauty of Gitmo for this is that it one of the only places in the world where the U.S. military has sole jurisdiction over everyone there. It is a military base located on territory disputed by Cuba, and our claim to it is enforced through the last 46 years by force of arms - remember the scenes from "A Few Good Men"? We have a regiment or so of Marines stationed at the military base there, manning the wall between Gitmo and the rest of Cuba.

The only other places where the U.S. military has exclusive jurisdiction over the people there are our military ships at sea - though I doubt that we would cede jurisdiction to another country even if not in international waters.

So, if we had brought the detainees back to the U.S., proper, they arguably would have been subject to the full Bill of Rights, etc., and the possibility of non-military justice. And if we had left them at one of our bases elsewhere in the world, there would always have been the possibility of that other country trying to enforce jurisdiction.

So, Gitmo is unique for us in the world. Because it is a military base, it is subject to military jurisdiction, but because we hold it by force of arms, that jurisdiction is sole and unique. And, thus, the courts could not, in the long run, have ruled in any other way, because, to do so, would have undermined almost 240 years of military justice, potentially subjecting soldiers to civilian jurisdiction for crimes committed while engaged in military persuits. In short, civilian courts overseeing military justice, and, thus, ultimately, military operations.

As a result of this, Club Gitmo was an inspired choice for a place for detaining illegal combatants.

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