the supreme court smackdown on military tribunals

From the New York Times:

The Supreme Court today delivered a sweeping rebuke to the Bush administration, ruling that the military tribunals it created to try terror suspects violate both American military law and the Geneva Conventions…

From the SCOTUS Blog:

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Congress did not take away the Court’s authority to rule on the military commissions’ validity, and then went ahead to rule that President Bush did not have authority to set up the tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and found the commissions illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Convention. In addition, the Court concluded that the commissions were not authorized when Congress enacted the post-9/1l resolution authorizing a response to the terrorist attacks, and were not authorized by last year’s Detainee Treatment Act. The vote against the commissions and on the Court’s jurisdiction was 5-3, with the Chief Justice not taking part…

You can find a PDF of the Supreme Court decision here, if you’d like to read it yourself.

Most of it’s lost on me, but, judging from what I’m reading, the critical thing seems to be that the Court has upheld that Common Article III of the Geneva Convention, despite what the administration has claimed, applies to our current conflict with Al Qaeda.

Here’s a clip from Article III:

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

The decision was 5-3, with Roberts having recused himself, having already decided on the case while serving on a lower court. (He decided in favor of the President at that time.) Unsurprisingly, the three Justices to side with the administration were Alito, Scalia and Thomas.

So, the question now is, “How will the President respond?” If he continues, one would think there would certainly be grounds for impeachment, but perhaps Rove and Cheney have a plan.

The response from the Right has been swift and predictable. Senator Trent Lott came out and announced that this decision would have our enemies laughing at us. Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissenting opinion, claimed that Justice Stevens’ vote illustrated an “unfamiliarity with the realities of war.” Of course, Thomas has never served in the armed service, whereas Stevens served in the Navy for three years during WWII, but that, I suppose, is neither here nor there. And, Tony Snow, the Whitehouse spokesperson, flat-out lied and said that it had never been the goal of this administration to increase Executive power.

On that note, I’d like to put in a plug for the ACLU, which is making copies of the DVD “Stop the Abuse of Power,” freely available to anyone willing to host a viewing of it at their house. I haven’t seen it yet, but supposedly it makes the Constitutional case against the Bush administration in pretty clear terms – focusing on the torture of prisoners, the denial of due process, and the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. Ordering a copy might be a good way to celebrate today’s decision, and keep the conversation going.

(It should be pointed out that everything didn’t go well at the Supreme Court today. In addition to coming down against the administration in this case, the Justices also found the extreme gerrymandering done by Texas Republicans to be legal.)

Posted in Politics | 9 Comments

the odd origins of ‘strangers with candy’

I had absolutely no idea that Jerri Blank, the high school-attending former prostitute and drug addict portrayed by Amy Sedaris in “Strangers with Candy” was based on a real person. I’m very confused right now, and, I think, even more impressed with Sedaris. (via Metafilter)

Posted in Art and Culture | 5 Comments

the exemplar building sells to g.w. kent

From a note by Cheryl Farmer, outgoing Mayor of Ypsilanti:

…I am happy to report that the Exemplar building at the exit from I-94 has finally been sold. The bankruptcy case kept it in limbo a long time. We have Renee and Matt Greff to thank for suggesting to their distributor that this would be a great opportunity to expand his business by moving to Ypsi. The new owners are committed to improving the landscaping too. Let’s all start inviting the businesses we need to come to town! Likewise, let’s continue supporting the ones we already have. Depot Towners have had a saying for years that ” if you can’t buy it in Depot Town, you probably don’t need it.” We can expand this concept to the whole city!

Thanks again to the Greffs, and the Michigan beer industry! (And let this be a reminder to everyone as to why having events like the Michigan Summer Beer Fest here in Ypsi is important. I’m sure that the experience of being here in town for that event each year had more than a little to do with why G.W. Kent, when told of the opportunity, were receptive to it. I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent, but, in my opinion, it’s absolutely critical that we continue to allow new events like the Beer Fest to come to town, and allow the ones that are already coming here to grow. For those of you that don’t know, legislation was recently introduced in Ypsi which would keep large, new events like Elvisfest and Beer Fest from locating in Ypsi. From what I understand, it also made it extremely difficult for the Beer Fest to expand from a one-day format to a two-day format.)

update: I’ve edited this piece to reflect that it was in fact G.W. Kent moving into the Exemplar facility and not Rave Associates. G.W. Kent is the company from which the Greff’s buy their brewing supplies. (I used to buy my brewing supplies from them too, back in the pre-wife, pre-baby, pre-blog days, when I had the time to homebrew.) I had, incorrectly so, jumped to the conclusion when the Mayor said “their distributor” that she meant the distributor of their finished product – Rave Associates. It didn’t occur to me that they had a distributor on the other end of the process as well. Thanks to CIty Council member John Gawlas for setting me straight.

Posted in Ypsilanti | 5 Comments

the michigan design militia needs you to help spread the word

There’s now an official flyer for the Shadow Art Fair. Please download it, return to your place of work once your boss has fallen asleep, and begin printing. Keep preessing the print button until sunrise. Then, hire a team of illegal aliens to help you hand them out and plaster them on every remotely flat surface in your town, regardless of where your town is… Seriously, it would mean a lot to me if those of you in other towns, cities, states and countries would help get the word out about our immensely important event.

Posted in Special Projects | 9 Comments

as the earth cooks

Bush says there’s still debate over the cause of global warming. There isn’t. The jury is in, and Gore’s right. Global warming is real, and humans are the cause of it. It’s more obvious than a ten year erection. Fuck, even Frank Luntz can see it.

Posted in Other | 7 Comments


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