Thursday, December 29, 2005

The laws mean nothing

Back in August, I blogged about the case of fifteen men who continued to be detained in Guantanamo, even after the US military had concluded they were innocent. Two of them, Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdu Hakim, went to court seeking a writ of Habeas Corpus ordering their release. Just before Christmas, the judge in the case handed down an astounding decision: the men's continued detention was clearly unlawful, but he could not actually do anything about it; the court had "no relief to offer".

Just to repeat that, the US government can unlawfully detain people for four years, and the courts can't even order their release.

Clearly, in the US, the laws mean nothing. The President can now detain whoever he wants, for as long as he wants, for whatever he wants, and even though it may be "unlawful", nothing can be done for fear of infringing the royal executive prerogotive. So much for "a nation of laws, not men".

(Hat tip: Obsidian Wings)