GUANTANAMO. US TOP COURT DECLARES GUANTANAMO TRIBUNALS ILLEGAL
June 29, 2006: in a sharp rebuke of President George W. Bush's tactics in the war on terrorism, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unlawful the military tribunal system set up to try Guantanamo prisoners.
By a 5-3 vote, the nation's highest court declared that the tribunals, which Bush created right after the September 11 attacks, violated the Geneva Conventions and U.S. military rules.
"We conclude that the military commission convened to try (Salim Ahmed) Hamdan lacks power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate" the international agreement that covers treatment of prisoners of war, as well as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court majority.
The decision was a stinging blow for the administration in a case brought by Hamdan, who was Osama bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan. Hamdan, one of about 450 foreign terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was captured in November 2001.
At the White House, Bush said he had not fully reviewed the ruling and would consult with the U.S. Congress to attain appropriate authority for military tribunals. "We take the findings seriously," he said.
A Pentagon spokesman declined immediate to comment but reiterated the need for a U.S. facility to hold dangerous captives.
The ruling, handed down on the last day of the court's 2005-06 term, followed the deaths of three Guantanamo prisoners this month and increased calls for Bush to close the prison camp. U.S. treatment of inmates at Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan has drawn international criticism. (Sources: Reuters, 29/06/06)