U.S. SUPREME COURT: HABEAS CORPUS PETITIONS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS HELD IN IRAQ CAN BE HEARD, BUT TO NO AVAIL: STRANGE

Democracy Now wrote the following in it's headlines:

Justices Reject US Citizens' Effort to Challenge Foreign Transfer

As the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Guantanamo prisoners, it dealt a new setback for American citizens being held in Iraq. In a unanimous ruling, justices ruled two Americans cannot use the US court system to challenge their transfer into Iraqi military custody. The Americans, Shawqi Ahmad Omar and Mohammad Munaf, are being held at Camp Cropper near the Baghdad airport. An Iraqi court has convicted Munaf of kidnapping Romanian journalists in a case widely seen as a sham. Munaf's lawyers say the judge had been prepared to dismiss the trial until two US military officials intervened and told him to order the death penalty. Munaf's death sentence was recently overturned, but he could face more charges. Omar, meanwhile, was detained by US forces at his Baghdad home. He's been accused of harboring insurgents.

However, it didn't make clear the following:

US Supreme Court Rules Guantanamo Prisoners Can Appeal in American Civil Courts
Linda Greenhouse
New York Times
6/13/2008
[The] Supreme Court was...unanimous, surprisingly so, in a second habeas corpus ruling on Thursday. Again rejecting the Bush administration's position, the court held in an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts that two civilian United States citizens being held in American military custody in Iraq were entitled to file habeas corpus petitions.

Proceeding to the merits of the petitions, the court then ruled against the two men, Mohammad Munaf and Shawqi Ahmad Omar, who are facing criminal charges under Iraqi law. Their release through habeas corpus "would interfere with the sovereign authority of Iraq to punish offenses against its laws committed within its borders," Chief Justice Roberts said.

The administration had argued in the case, Munaf v. Geren, No. 06-1666, that because the men were technically held by the 26-nation multinational force in Iraq, federal courts did not have jurisdiction to hear their habeas corpus petitions. Chief Justice Roberts said that, to the contrary, what mattered was that the men were held by "American soldiers subject to a United States chain of command."

One wonders whether any circumstances would move the U.S. Supreme Court to grant release. What if the Iraqis were clearly railroading an American citizen as suggested by the Democracy Now piece? It says, "[T]he judge had been prepared to dismiss the trial until two US military officials intervened and told him to order the death penalty." That would be illegal, and the U.S. Supreme Court has jurisdiction over those military officials. For all practical purposes, Iraq certainly isn't sovereign. The U.S. dictates there. George W. Bush is the ruler of Iraq.

Also, who arrested the one being held in his home? He's being held by the U.S.

It sounds like the U.S. forcing the Iraqis to punish U.S. Citizens that the U.S. took. If that's the case, the U.S. Supreme Court got it wrong.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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