THE decision of the United States Supreme Court that the military tribunal court system being used at Guantanamo Bay prison camp is illegal will have given heart to all those Americans and all those admirers of America who have been appalled by what Guantanamo Bay stands for. It should also enable trials of those accused of terrorism to go ahead under proper safeguards for the prisoners and their lawyers. Some of the accused may in due course be found guilty but that will not mean that the protests against their treatment and the form of military tribunal with which they were threatened has been wrong. On the contrary, it is in the best tradition of everything the Fourth of July symbolises that a sufficient number of people, among them many brave lawyers, continued to protest about Guantanamo Bay while the odds seemed stacked against them. Thanks to their persistence it became inevitable that the Supreme Court should be asked to rule. As a result the Bush administration received a stinging rebuke from the Court in a 5-3 decision which said that its “procedures violate the Geneva Convention” as well as US law. President Bush immediately said that he will conform with the Supreme Court's judgement. When shall we hear from Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, both of whom have consistently argued that the Geneva Convention did not apply to the “war on terror” and scorned the opinions of those who thought otherwise?


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