But my joy in finally getting this decision was tempered by the knowledge that it came a few days late. Just two weeks earlier, three of the Guantanamo detainees that we were representing at the Center for Constitutional Rights committed suicide, despairing that they would ever be released from their horrific and illegal confinement. Making that tragic incident all the more horrible and personally wrenching for me, since one of the victims was my own client--is knowing that he had actually been scheduled to be released three days hence. Because of the wall of secrecy and inaccessibility the government has illegally erected around the detainees, even with the information recently released via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit we could not identify him and get word to him about his impending release in time.
But I was wrong.
Lawyers for the detainees still had to endure two years of Administration refusal to comply with the court's decision, with the Justice Department attorneys insisting people might have the right to go to court but once there they have no protections to be enforced. Now we know this obscene delaying tactic for what it has been from the start: a blatant trampling on the Constitution by the President.
But this struggle wasn't simply an arcane legal argument between lawyers. The two long years it took for us to get back to the Supreme Court took their toll on the Guanta'namo prisoners. There have been many suicide attempts, and finally three lives were lost in their quest for justice from a country that once was a beacon of liberty. The Supreme Court's forceful decision in June cannot bring back the lives of those men, at least one of whom--my client-- was known to be innocent of any crime. Nor can it give back the years--five in many cases--that have been stolen from the Guantanamo detainees, some of who were children when they were snatched from their countries by American forces, and most of whom even military officials admit are not guilty of anything.
The blood of three detainees who, despairing of receiving justice, killed themselves, is on the hands of this administration. It is wonderful that President Bush's abuse of power in this case has been slapped down by the Supreme Court, but more is called for. This abuse of power and willful violation of the rule of law and of the Geneva Conventions call for his impeachment.