Convictions bloggers Ben Wittes and Deborah Pearlstein just concluded an absolutely terrific panel, “Ensuring Access to Justice for Detainees in the ‘War on Terror,’ ” ably moderated by Judge Marsha Berzon at the American Constitution Society ‘s ongoing annual convention. Deborah Pearlstein’s analysis of Boumediene , as well as of Munaf and Omar , just a day after issuance, was breathtakingly comprehensive, clear, and insightful. Ben shared highlights from his forthcoming book, summarizing the existing “imperfect data” on what we know about the Guantanamo detainees. They were joined by Joanne Mariner from Human Rights Watch, who laid out where we can go from here and made a persuasive case for using the federal courts rather than creating a system of preventive detention. (Deborah agreed, and Ben clarified—see Marty’s post —that legislation should come only after careful deliberation during the next administration.) And American hero Alberto Mora movingly reminded us that, even putting aside the court’s repeated determinations of illegality, the Bush administration’s detainee policies have failed miserably, by every measure: fostering detainee abuse and even torture by the U.S. and other nations, creating fertile conditions for the recruitment of terrorists, and undermining the United States’ reputation and effectiveness around the world. What a panel!
Earlier today, lunch speaker Sen. Patrick Leahy reminded us what’s at stake in the next election and brought the room to thunderous applause when he asked why the Supreme Court upheld the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus by only a vote of 5 to 4.