Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Newt the Impaler
"Vlad" Gingrich is molesting the Constitution in the name of national security again. This time he's on a tirade about the recent Supreme Court decision that grants prisoners held at young Mr. Bush's pleasure in Guantanamo the right to a habeas corpus hearing.
"This court decision is a disaster and it could cost us a city," Newt said on Face the Nation. Land o' Goshen. The only way this court decision could cost us a city is if it makes Newt's head explode. Driving Newt's noodle to critical mass would be the kind of disaster we need, but it would force us to make some difficult decisions. Losing New York City or Washington D.C. might be too high a price to pay to be permanently rid of Newt, but if we're talking, say, Minot, North Dakota, well…
I take that back. Minot's a lovely city and we have a strategically significant military base there. We'll blow Newt's noggin to smithereens in that chancre sore on the Potomac. Let's just make sure all the politicians are in town when we push the plunger.
All the President's Yes Men
Newt has a squadron of wingmen on this mission. Fellow vampire and dissenting Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia calls the decision a "self-invited…incursion into military affairs."
I find it fascinating that a Supreme Court Justice would consider the high court's involvement in a constitutional matter an "incursion," or that the court "invited" itself to rule on a case brought to it by a plaintiff. As to interfering in military affairs, Scalia must be reading a different Constitution from the one the rest of us have available. Article III of the Constitution we peons have to make do with says that the Supreme Court's judicial power extends to all cases rising from the Constitution, and habeas corpus is most certainly a constitutional issue. The Constitution doesn't say anything about the military having a say in constitutional matters.
Lipstick neocon Lindsey Graham says the decision gives every member of al Qaeda "the same constitutional rights as an American citizen." Graham's a lawyer, and a reserve Air Force JAG officer to boot. He knows good and well that granting Guantanamo prisoners the habeas privilege does not give them the same rights American citizens have. If it did they could all move to South Carolina and vote Graham's happy wazoo out of office. More to the point, though, is that the Constitution treats habeas as a universal right, not as a privilege of U.S. citizenship. That's why it's mentioned in Article I instead of in the bill of rights.
Graham also says that thanks to the ruling, the decision as to who qualifies as an enemy combatant "is not going to be made by military personnel tribunals, trained in the matters of warfare, but that decision will be made by the most liberal judges the detainees can find." Gingrich echoed that sentiment on Face the Nation when he screeched that the decision will allow "any random nut case district judge, who has no knowledge of national security, to set the rules for terrorists." I'm not convinced there's a judge in the land who's a bigger nut case than Newt, but his and Lindsey's concerns can be easily addressed. Article III empowers the legislature to establish new courts. Congress could easily create a court with specific jurisdiction over enemy combatants much in the same way it made courts with jurisdiction over tax issues and military appeals, and the president can nominate judges to fill that court's benches who know a lot more about matters of warfare than Newt and Lindsey combined.
Judges like that won't be hard to find.
They Vant to Shed Your Blood
Newt was going for the throat on Face the Nation when he rolled out his main argument: "Five lawyers had decided that the Supreme Court counts more than the Congress and the president combined in national security" and had meddled in an affair "that ought to be a principled argument between McCain and Obama."
Will someone please invite this undead bag of pus to a garlic festival?
This wasn’t a national security issue, it was a constitutional issue, and even if it was a national security issue, Newt's biggest nut-case district judge is more qualified in matters of national security than George W. Bush is. Hell, all three of my dogs are better qualified to be commander in chief than Bush is; none of them have lost two wars.
Article I, the part of the Constitution that establishes powers of the legislature, states: "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."
We're not in a state of rebellion and nobody's invading us, so Congress has no business putting its grubby paws on habeas. Article II doesn't let the president anywhere near habeas, and nowhere does the Constitution remotely suggest that habeas corpus is a matter for discussion, principled or otherwise, between presidential candidates.
You tend to think Newt is smart enough to know that he's talking garbage, and that his ideologue pals like Scalia and Graham do too. It's anybody's guess what really goes on between these yahooligans' ears, but it's telling that neoconservative crown prince John McCain considers the court ruling "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country" yet says that the invasion of Iraq "was not a mistake."
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.
at 9:58 PM