That is his mess. He created the sequestration problem. He screwed every active duty and reserve In the process. Now he wants to screw their parents,
Keep those Yellow ribbon magnets on your cars while you vote Republican and screw our troops.
But something is happening. The Vikings said that, prior to the end (which they called Ragnarok), three winters would follow one another with no summers between. Then Heimdallr, the Herald of the Gods, would take his place and blow the mighty horn Gjallerh...
The case itself is a lawsuit against a military contractor by people who were allegedly tortured by the contractor's employees at Abu Ghraib. The question ruled on yesterday was whether the "political question doctrine" bars the suit. That doctrine essentially says that when the Constitution grants authority over some question to some specific branch of government which isn't the courts, the courts don't have the power to overrule it; in this case, the defense was that because this was done under military orders and is part of the exercise of war powers, it's a political question.
What makes this especially important is that this was part of a broader legal theory pushed (very hard) by the Bush II administration, that because people (not just at Abu Ghraib, but in a wide variety of sites operated by both the military and intelligence communities) were acting in good faith under legal advice from the White House counsel that torture was legal in various cases, they should be immune to prosecution for that; and further, that because the decision to do so was made as part of the military's wartime power (which follows from the Executive's wartime power), all such questions are political questions and not for the courts to answer.
The court disagreed: in a unanimous ruling, it distinguished between things which are or are not illegal in their own right. If an action is not per se unlawful, and was done by or under the actual control of the military, the court ruled that the political question doctrine may apply – but that doctrine can never apply to an unlawful act, and that "claims [which] rest on allegations of unlawful conduct in violation of settled international law or criminal law... fall outside the protection of the political question doctrine."
That is, this is a ruling that even if something involves the military, and is done in the theater of war, that does not exclude it from the law, and "it is beyond the power of even the President to declare such conduct lawful" when it violates the law. (And torture, unsurprisingly, violates both the UCMJ and federal law)
I find this ruling important because it turns away from a direction of extreme deference towards the Executive which the courts held in the 15 years since 9/11, in which courts refused to touch nearly anything which was described as "for national security," "counterterrorism," or "part of the war effort."
In particular, if by suitable invocation of war powers, the President (or his attorneys, or a military officer) can declare even torture to be legal, then surely there is nothing else which they can't declare to be legal. A ruling that this was possible in such a case would therefore be a nearly infinite barrier to any claim against something which the Executive branch had touched – giving heavy legal weight to Nixon's infamous idea that "when the President does it, that means it's not illegal."
In an era where mass surveillance is a routine part of our domestic policy and assassination of our foreign policy, such questions become profoundly important: they are the difference between a single person being able to make these decisions, without any possibility of review except what they personally request, and having a system of laws by which the people can have a say in what is and is not acceptable.
This is only an appellate ruling, so it isn't binding on other circuits and could be overturned by the Supreme Court. However, the Fourth Circuit is generally known as a fairly government-friendly circuit, and with SCOTUS down to eight members, they may be unwilling to take such a case, preferring to leave it in the circuits until and unless a circuit split arises. Even more however, cases such as this one are particularly likely to end up in the Fourth Circuit, because that circuit includes both Virginia and Maryland, where many of the players in such fields are located. This means that this ruling is likely to carry substantial weight in these matters going forward.
It's only a small step, but it's a significant one – a step towards checking the power of a President to do quite literally whatever they want, something which our Constitution works hard to avoid.
What this revealed - aside from the dose of misogyny on top of his racism - is a guy who cannot handle a simple question under pressure, and who refuses to admit he's wrong. Yet 32% of Republicans think it's a great idea to put half of the world's nuclear weapons into his hands.
This has profoundly disturbing implications.
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