The Miami Herald reported Friday that President George W. Bush had this to say at a news conference in Chicago about the U.S. Supreme Court justices' decision on Jun. 29 in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: "They were silent on whether or not we should have used Guantánamo. In other words, they accepted the use of Guantánamo, the decision I made." -- President Bush thus displayed his ignorance of the principles that guide the highest court of the nation he leads, and showed that he does not know how to read a Supreme Court opinion. -- In Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 297 U.S. 288, 346-9 (1936), Justice Brandeis detailed seven principles by which the court is guided in shaping its decisions. -- Among them are these two: "The Court will not formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to be applied," and "The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the record, if there is also present some other ground upon which the case may be disposed of . . . [I]f a case can be decided on either of two grounds, one involving a constitutional question, the other a question of statutory construction or general law, the Court will decide only the latter." -- In the majority opinion in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Justice Stevens said: "[T]he rules specified for Hamdan's trial are illegal" under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions; that was all that was needed to decide the case before the court. -- The president also demonstrated he that he does not know how many people have been and are being held at Guantánamo. -- He was right, though, when he said: "Some need to be tried, and the fundamental question is, how do we try them?" ...
BUSH: COURT'S SILENCE MEANT GUANTÁNAMO WAS JUSTIFIED
By Carol Rosenberg
July 7, 2006
In reflecting on the Supreme Court slap over his military tribunals at Guantánamo, President Bush offered reporters a glass half-full analogy on Friday.
"They were silent on whether or not we should have used Guantánamo. In other words, they accepted the use of Guantánamo, the decision I made," Bush said at a news conference during a day trip to Chicago.
Last month, the court closed its session with a 5-3 ruling against the president's formula for the tribunals, saying the Military Commissions at Guantánamo overstepped presidential powers.
The ruling suggested that the administration turn to Congress to iron out any constitutional wrinkles, such as international treaty obligations and due process protections under U.S. law.
"They have said, work with the Congress," Bush said. "I have been waiting for this decision in order to figure out how to go forward. I want to move forward."
Solicitor General Paul Clement had argued that presidential power coupled with last year's Detainee Treatment Act prohibited any lawsuit at all by Salim Hamdan, the Yemeni captive at Guantánamo whose challenge collapsed the military commissions.
The Senate Judiciary Committee starts the process on Tuesday with hearings on how to proceed with trials against any alleged criminals among those being held without charge at Guantánamo.
The hearings are entitled "Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: Establishing a Constitutional Process" and will receive testimony from a Navy defense lawyer; the Yale Law School dean; senior lawyers from the Justice and Defense departments, as well as former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson.
Still unclear is whether Justice or the Defense Department will take the lead in helping draft proposals, and whether the preferred venue for any trials would be in civilian or military courts.
The president also adopted fuzzy math Friday in describing current demographics at the offshore detention center in remote, southeast Cuba.
"So we have about 600 or so there, and 200 have been sent back home. We'd like to send more back to their countries of origin. Some need to be tried, and the fundamental question is, how do we try them?"
The Pentagon says the captive population at Guantánamo is down to "approximately 450" with "approximately 310" sent away since the U.S. began airlifting suspected terrorists from Bagram, Afghanistan, to Guantánamo in January 2002.