Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thompson on Boumediene

The ole country lawyer ain't happy:
People can disagree over whether Congress got it right, but at least members have to face the voters. What remedy do people have now if they don’t like the court’s decision? None. If that thought is not enough to cause concerned citizens to turn out on Election Day to elect a new president, then I don’t know what will be.
He touched on something concerning me as well--the possibility detainees might obtain access to the national security information used to detain them. If indeed correct the 5 SCOTUS judges who allowed this should be impeached.

Even if not, we live in a partisan world where circuit judges legislate from the bench based on personal convictions and passionate lawyers leak for the same reasons (think Lynne Stewart). The court has now taken the ability for persons charged with protecting the country to manage this process, or even for a Congress that had likely considered such issues when they crafted the current detainee bill, at last check seen smoldering in the corner.

Perhaps the most famous former federal prosecutor of the Southern District of New York office (besides his friend Patrick Fitzgerald) is Andrew McCarthy, who has a book on the shelves that goes into depth about the mistakes made by our country in pursuing terrorism leading up to 9/11. The title basically says it all--"Willful Blindness", in which he figuratively laughs at himself in retrospect to being on the front lines of the war against radical extremism in place of actual fighting men. He talks about protecting vital intelligence on page 55:
Much of the CIA's knowledge, particularly that drawn from its covert operations, is top-secret intelligence. When an Agency analyst gives the kind of briefing I needed on Afghanistan, it is certain to be based on at least some classified information, including intelligence from deep-cover operatives, from foreign countries, and from electronic surveillance the CIA was lucky enough to set up on just the right telephone or meeting place. Such intelligence is sometimes confined to a circle so tight its revelation would effectively blow the source.
To this layman it seems the government will be faced with multiple decisions on whether to charge detainees with things like dirty bomb plots or something much less based on the risk of blowing important sources/networks. We'll be trading the possibility of detaining an innocent man for a judge refusing to allow a terrorist to be kept off the streets--again, as long as Americans understand that, we're all fine, right?

Some in positions of power might see an immediate sentencing via death as a viable alternative but certainly we'll see our share of, to use government parlance, ass covering. As McCarthy says in the opening page of his book, "imagine the liability". Terrorists will understand--they've been adapting their strategies all along.

As to Fred, can't help but wonder if there's an "Attorney General Thompson" title in his future.

MORE 6/14/08

This isn't a judge that would be determining the fate of detainees, but you get the picture...

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