The Other Charlotte is the lawyer in this duo, but I was surprised at the news media’s handling of the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday on the detention of terror suspects.
The media played it as a slam dunk defeat for the Bush administration, the New York Times going so far as to bring retired columnist Anthony Lewis of mothballs to pontificate on the disaster for the Bush administration, whereas it looked to my untrained eye as if the administration’and civil rights’had both done rather well.
It was a relief to find that the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal upheld the Hays opinion. The verdict was mixed, but all in all, the WSJ overrules the press to call it a victory for the executive.
The Supreme Court upheld the right of the commander-in-chief to detain enemy combatants, including U.S. citizens, but also of detainees to have their day in court. This will lead to a flood of litigation as Guantanamo prisoners take to the federal courts.
“This pretty much guarantees that the 600 or so Guantanamo detainees will bring 600 or so habeas corpus cases–perhaps in 600 or so different courtrooms, with 600 or so different judges demanding 600 or so different standards of what evidence constitutes a threat to the United States,” note the WSJ, adding that a possible solution is the consolidation of such cases into one jurisdiction.
“The Court’s three rulings will surely complicate U.S. detention policy, at least at the margins,” the editorial notes. “But at the same time they uphold the longstanding and proper deference that the Supreme Court has shown throughout its history to the executive branch on national security, especially in wartime. That includes decisions on how to define and handle a dangerous enemy. For a change, this particular Court actually restrained itself.”
The media coverage of the Supreme Court’s decision was just the latest evidence of bias. It reminds me that I wanted to mention that Brent Bozell, the conservative media watchdog, is launching a $2.8 million campaign to inform the public about this bias.
As the WaPo’s Howard Kurtz reported yesterday, the campaign will include ‘billboards in 40 cities and a talk-radio blitz aimed at countering what he sees as a “liberal jihad” that is unfair to President Bush. The slogan (also on T-shirts and mugs) is not exactly subtle. A finger-pointing Uncle Sam declares: “Don’t believe the liberal media!”