Hamdan, Khadr: What Happens When You Practice Law Conservative Style

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You reap what you sow.


bin laden

A U.S. war crimes tribunal at Guantanamo came to a screeching halt on Monday when a military judge dropped all the charges against a young Canadian in a ruling that could preclude trying any of the 380 prisoners any time soon.

Army Col. Peter Brownback, the judge, said the military tribunal lacked jurisdiction over Canadian Omar Khadr because he did not meet the strict definition of those subject to trial under a law the U.S. Congress drafted last year.

Hamdan, Bin Laden's driver, also had his case revoked. For years now the Bush administration has ignored the law in favor of the kind of conservative law taught at places like Regent University that - while it may get you somewhere in conservative circles - has no bearing on the real world.

One need only to look at this interview with John Yoo, former Bush administration former deputy assistant attorney general for the root madness at the heart of this perversion of common sense:

[Q] You said you were one of the first in the Justice Department to recognize this as war as opposed to an isolated attack, a law enforcement problem. What's the importance of that? What advice did you give the White House?

[A] Well, it was my view at the time, which I wasn't shy about sharing, that we were at war. I think that is important, because if you're at war, the powers of the government change; the powers of the president change. They both generally expand. We had, as a nation, under administrations of both political parties, treated terrorism as a criminal justice matter, which primarily meant that we would wait for the crimes to occur, just as we do normally, and then try to piece together the events and hold people responsible after the fact.

When you switch to a footing of war, you are trying to use society's resources, the military primarily, to stop future attacks, not just hold people responsible and accountable -- which is impossible to do with suicide bombers involved -- for things that have already happened. So, for example, the surveillance powers of the government, I think, expand. So, for example, in wartime you're allowed to detain members of the enemy without having a trial; criminal trials are for peacetime and for crime. So powers of government expand once you're at war.

In the world of Woo, and conservative legal "scholarship", the President has war power because he said so. Except, he doesn't. You only get war powers when you declare war.

I knew that, and I didn't go to law school. I was, however, paying attention in Dr. Monroe's World History class at Boyd Anderson High School in 9th grade.