My successors at the Mobile Register agree with my earlier post and a post by Dave Holman about a provision of the Voting Rights Act that, in contrast to the excellent rest of the act, really ought to be jettisoned. The Register adds a few facts I didn't know and haven't earlier reported. And one point I also did not make is that the sheer expense, in man-hours and paper and rigmarole, of the provision, at both the state and federal levels, is highly burdensome. Here's hoping Congress gets the Register's message.
The Spectacle Blog
The Mobile Register reports that former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman has been found guilty on multiple counts, including bribery, in a long-running trial. Finally. And deservedly. The man has shown dishonesty again and again and again. The very first time I ever saw him in person, he looked directly into my eyes and told me a whopper of a lie. Good riddance to him.
I haven't read the decision yet, and have no immediate plans to do so (it's 185 pages, and I'm busy with a long feature for a different magazine). But as with the McCain Amendment, I wonder if the effect of extending Geneva protections to al Qaeda won't be to encourage rendition of al Qaeda detainees to less scrupulous countries. That would be an unhappy result (from both a humanitarian and a strategic perspective), though without digging into the opinion I can't say if there might be a legislative or other policy remedy to the problems the case raises.
Jed, You're right that the Court does not explicitly rule that, but that is the effect of the decision. Your third point seems to support this.
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.
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.
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.