The Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial today echoing Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s statements yesterday in which he called on Congress to pass new legislation that would “clarify” America’s detainee policy. Shocking, we know. Mr. Mukasey’s statements came less than five weeks after the Supreme Court released its Boumediene decision upholding the centuries old legal tenet of habeas corpus.
In his speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Mukasey argued that we need “guidance from Congress” following the Boumediene decision to ensure, basically, that the terrorists don’t get out and run wild (we paraphrased a bit).
But his concerns seem to be little more than politically-motivated straw men. As we said in a statement yesterday, while Mr. Mukasey suggests that all habeas petitions by Guantanamo detainees should be heard in one district court, they already are. All current petitions pending in the D.C. District Court, and any filed elsewhere will be transferred to the D.C. District Court. He also suggests that, in order to avoid contradictory decisions, one judge should rule on the preliminary issues in the cases. Mr. Mukasey should be relieved, then, that Reagan appointee Judge Thomas F. Hogan has already taken on that role.
Mukasey’s statements yesterday were nothing more than one more attempt by the Bush administration to subvert the law by circumventing the role of our courts – Boumediene was the third time the Supreme Court rejected this administration’s detention policy. As we noted yesterday, despite administration efforts to conjure up a false sense of urgency, the last thing this country needs is to rush through new haphazard legislation. We’ve seen how well that works out (witness the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006).