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No military trials for Guantanamo prisoners

June 29, 2006

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday strongly limited the power of the Bush administration to conduct military tribunals for suspected terrorists imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

According to the CNN, the case was a major test of President Bush’s authority as commander in chief in during war. Bush has aggressively asserted the power of the government to capture, detain, and prosecute suspected terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Defining the prisoners as “enemy combatants” – not prisoners of war – President Bush has claimed that they can be held without charges in a military prison without the protections of the U.S. criminal justice system, such as the right to counsel. The Supreme Court has now firmly denied this claim.

– The military commission at issue is not expressly authorized by any congressional act, said Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority of the Supreme Court.

– The tribunals must be understood to incorporate at least the barest of those trial protections that have been recognized by customary international law.

While the Supreme Court ruling does not grant the prisoners a fair trial, at least it does not grant the Bush administration the right to summarily execute them, or push them trough a series of mock trials. Considering the current political climate in the US, this must be considered an important step in the right direction.

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