The Spectacle Blog

Hamdan; First reactions

By on 6.29.06 | 12:33PM

Dave: I don't read the Hamdan decison quite that way. First impressions (wading through the damned 185 pages) are that the Supremes:

1. specifically do not rule on the issue of Hamdan being a POW with rights under the Geneva Convention;

2. say that the urgency requirement justifying military tribunals in the field aren't present here, so the president lacks legislative authority to convene these tribunals; and

3. and most bizarrely, they say that the "non-signatory" provisions of the Geneva Conventions apply to al-Qaeda. That they do this, Stevens's opinion brushing by the point that al-Qaeda fails to comply with the terms of Geneva in any respect, is simply bizarre.

Al Qaeda as a Foreign State

By on 6.29.06 | 11:44AM

That is what the Supreme Court has apparently ruled today in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (pdf). The U.S. will be bound by the Geneva Convention in its war on al Qaeda -- even though al Qaeda is not party to the treaty.

Hopefully, President Bush has better lawyers than Harriet Miers who understand how to overcome this challenge.

No Blow Too Low

By on 6.29.06 | 11:12AM

The poisonous, threatening tone of the left is not confined to the Huffington Post. If you had any doubt after my report on the threatening phone calls to Swift Boat veterans, check out the comments on this post at a popular blog.

Re: Buzzard’s House Buzzed

By on 6.29.06 | 7:29AM

I remember February of 2005, mid-month, when Dennis Ross told a room full of USC Law students that he "wouldn't take out an insurance policy" on Bashar Assad's regime. And yet here it is, some time later, and Brammertz has sunken into the mists, and Assad lives on. In October of last year, when first I had occasion to quote Ross to good effect, it was a lot more timely to fantasize about "kicking over" the whole Syrian regime, and even carving up the state amongst its neighbors. Now holding Damascus to account has all the cachet and momentum of lobbying reform. Seizing the "historical moment" in Syria sounds now like occasion for either a laugh (rather than a cheer) or an outright jeer. But the fundamental problem of Syria -- its artificiality, not just as a regime but as a geopolity -- will live on quite as long as Assad does...and maybe even longer.

Sausage Making Is Ugly

By on 6.28.06 | 4:32PM

Rep. Jack Kingston introduces "MailTube": upload a video question to Google Video or YouTube, then Kingston will answer you via a YouTube video.

It's a neat idea, but Kingston should have invited a couple more questions, because his first answer is a bumbling journey through the sausage making of the Appropriations Committee. It goes something like, well, I would like to oppose earmarks, but you see, Democrats like earmarks, and so do Republicans, and we need those guys to vote on budgets, so we've got to sweeten the deal a little.

Sometimes our representatives are wise to shun sunlight's disinfecting rays.

Assad’s House Buzzed

By on 6.28.06 | 3:03PM

By Israeli planes. Unfortunately, this probably won't do much to change Syrian policy.

The Israelis buzzed Assad's house in August 2003 and bombed an Islamic Jihad training camp in Syria in October 2003. Meanwhile, Americans in Iraq have made hot pursuit incursions into Syria. There has been no response to any this (except through terrorist proxies). Given the Syrians' apparent impotence in the face of such aggression, you'd think we'd have tremendous diplomatic leverage with Damascus. So why isn't Assad bending over backwards to please the US and Israel? Probably because he's incapable of it: Syria isn't run by an iron-fisted dictator like Assad's dad anymore, but rather by a patchwork of competing factions within the Baath party, the military, and the various secuirty services. As long as Assad is in place as a figurehead, we won't know who really runs Syria. And until we know that, it won't be clear which house(s) really needs rattling.

Always 1965 vs. “That South Is Gone”

By on 6.28.06 | 3:01PM

I had a chance to attend a Federalist Society event this afternoon on the renewal of certain provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The main questions surround Section 5, which mandates that certain Southern states (and parts of California and New York) pre-clear any voting law changes with the Justice Department (explained well here and in further detail by Quin Hillyer on the blog last week). For the status quo were Daniel Tokaji and Julie Fernandes, both of the ACLU at one time or another, and for not renewing Section 5 were Abigail Thernstrom, of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Linda Chavez.

The history of the statute was helpful. Sections 4 and 5 were understood to be emergency provisions, which would expire in 1970.