Thursday, December 22, 2005

Revenge is a dish best served cold

That shiv sticking out of president's rib cage this morning belongs to one Judge Michael Luttig.

[I am going to assume you know the facts of the Padilla case, and that you know the substance of Luttig's ruling, yesterday, on that case. If not, your questions will be answered with marvelous clarity right here]

Anyway, now that I have your attention, I'd like to publicly appologize to Mr. Luttig.

Back when he was on the short-list for the Supreme Court, I presumed that he was just another Bush-sycophant. As you may recall, I was especialy disgusted with a ruling he published at around the time Renquist died, a ruling that gave the president the power to declare you or me or any other American citizen an "enemy combatant" and lock us up indefinately. "What great timing," I remember thinking, "but don't you think a nice bottle of wine would have been sufficient?"

But yesterday, the worm turned.

In what, the cliché-kings are calling a "strongly worded decision" Luttig told the president that he had destroyed his "credibility before the courts" which is judge-speak for "I'm tired of your meshagas, Mr. President."

And though I'm tempted to say that Luttig betrayed the president because he was upset about being skipped over for the Supreme Court not once but three times, I'll let the Judge speak for himself (this is the part that is "strongly worded":
They have left the impression that the government may even have come to the belief that the principle in reliance upon which it has detained Padilla for this time, that the President possesses the authority to detain enemy combatants who enter into this country for the purpose of attacking America and its citizens from within, can, in the end, yield to expediency with little or no cost to its conduct of the war against terror — an impression we would have thought the government likewise could ill afford to leave extant.

And these impressions have been left, we fear, at what may ultimately prove to be substantial cost to the government’s credibility before the courts, to whom it will one day need to argue again in support of a principle of assertedly like importance and necessity to the one that it seems to abandon today. While there could be an objective that could command such a price as all of this, it is difficult to imagine what that objective would be.
In other words, what really seems to be bothering Luttig is not that he was passed over for the big promotion, but that the president has been using the war on terror war as an excuse to expand his power, and at the expence of the liberties and procedures which protect us all.