Monday, April 25, 2005

Supremes protect Gitmo terrorists, not US POWs

Court Won't Hear Iraq POWs Case
AP via Fox News

No surprise from the Supremes here. They've been demonstrating their bizarre slant on loyalty for some time now.

But it still riles me to no end that they can rule the Gitmo terrorists, captured on the Afghanistan battlefield aiming at our soldiers, can have their day in the federal courts, yet they refuse to hear American POW's cases for torture in 1991 back in the first Gulf War.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court (search) on Monday declined to consider whether U.S. prisoners of war who say they were tortured during the 1991 Gulf War (search) should collect a $959 million judgment from Iraq.

The justices let stand a lower court ruling that threw out the lawsuit by the 17 former POWs and 37 family members. That ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (search) last year, said Congress never authorized such lawsuits against foreign governments.

Au contraire, says the Cowboy Prez. While the Supremes try to lay this stuff off on the WH, Bush is quick to point out the Supremes have avenues at their disposal.

The administration countered that the courts should defer to the executive branch on foreign policy decisions. It suggested in filings that the president may seek compensation for the POWs through diplomatic means once the new Iraqi regime is "firmly established."

At issue was a 1996 federal law that allows Americans to collect damages for hostage-taking, torture or murder committed by officials of foreign states who are designated as "state sponsors of terrorism" by the State Department. At the time, Iraq was listed as one such state.

The 17 POWs filed their lawsuit in 2002, alleging that they endured severe beatings, starvation, electric shock, threats of amputation and dismemberment and continual death threats.

Nearly 125 pages of the complaint detail the servicemen's stories, including those of Marine Maj. Michael Craig Berryman, who said his legs were beaten with a metal pipe and a wooden ax handle; Marine Col. Clifford Acree (search), who said he was so near starvation he could "feel his body consuming itself;" and Navy Cmdr. Lawrence Slade, whose body was described as so blue from bruises that it was "as if he had been dipped in indigo dye."

Since our liberation of Iraqis from the terrorist despot, Saddam, we have no doubts about their treatment of those imprisoned under his reign... Iraqis and foreigners alike. The mass graves being uncovered all over the State are testiment to the brutal regime.

The "no-show" of the Iraqi government in the US courts in 2003 from lawsuit Acree v. Iraq, 04-820 resulted in a default award to the POWs. They planned to obtain their settlement from the $1.7 billion in assets frozen by the U.S. governme, but the justice department intervened, saying the money was needed to rebuild Iraq after the regime change.

To add to the slap in the face to the US POWs, the legal eagles also had this to say:

Government lawyers also argued that the POWs weren't entitled to the judgment because President Bush made an official determination in May 2003 that a statute allowing payment from frozen assets wasn't applicable to Iraq because it no longer supported terrorism after Saddam was overthrown.

The D.C. appeals court agreed, saying the federal statute only allows lawsuits for pain and suffering if they are filed against agents and officers of those foreign states responsible for the torture who are not acting on behalf of their government.

Now maybe I'm reading all this wrong, but I sure don't think so. If anyone can shed more light on this, I'm open to the comments. But on the surface, this differential treatment by the US judicial branch to Gitmo terrorists while not lifting a finger to help our US POW's is unconcionable.

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