What in the world was Judge Ricardo Urbina thinking when he ordered the immediate release of 17 Chinese Muslim terrorists into Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital? His landmark decision means the potential opening of the floodgates of dozens of other prisoners in Guantanamo Bay Prison.
In August, when listening to the detainees’ proposal for release, U.S. District Judge Urbina said he didn’t “understand why that would not be a viable option.” This shocking, outrageous ruling by a Bill Clinton appointee is a prime example of what type of judges we can expect to get more of if Barack Obama becomes president. Not only will Obama appoint federal judges, but also the critical positions of Supreme Court Justices. And this is where the problem began.
Urbina’s opportunity to rule as he did is because the Supreme Court opened a Pandora’s Box last June. At that time, the Justices voted 5-4 to allow the Islamic terrorists held in Cuba the right to file habeas corpus petitions in America’s federal courts which challenge their detention. The dissenting voices of reason were from Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. Roberts rightly called the majority’s decision “the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants.” These Chinese Muslims, called Uighurs, were captured in Afghanistan and have been living at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay since 2002. They admit to receiving weapons training from the Taliban. But many more Islamic terrorists, even more dangerous, who are still within the confines of the prison, could now possibly be released into the United States.
The Bush administration, along with millions of Americans, stands against Urbina’s decision for good reason. “The district court’s ruling, if allowed to stand, could be used as precedent for other detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, including sworn enemies of the United States suspected of planning the attacks of 9/11, who may also seek release into our country,” said White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Urbina‘s reasoning is because he thinks “the Constitution prohibits indefinite detentions without cause, the continued detention is unlawful.” Human rights activists and dozens of Ulghurs living in the US broke into applause and cheers in the packed court-room when he gave his decision. One of those who agrees with Urbina is Larry Cox from Amnesty International. “How many times does the Bush administration need to be told that detainees are entitled to essential rights? All the remaining detainees in Guantanamo Bay must be either charged and tried or released immediately.”
The Uighurs were cleared for release in 2004, but the Bush administration thus far can’t find another country other than the Chinese willing to accept them. The Chinese call them terrorists and some fear that if they return to China, they will be tortured. Other countries fear reprisal from China if they accept the prisoners, but releasing the detainees into Washington, D.C. is not the answer.
Prior to Urbina’s ruling, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the Uighurs are thought to be members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a group recognized by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. The Bush administration says they are a national security threat.
Judge Urbina obviously places his principles of equality, fairness and social justice above the safety and well-being of his fellow countrymen. Fortunately, at least for now, a three -judge panel from a federal appeals court granted an emergency stay to the Bush administration until mid October to allow the government more time to make arguments in the case. Urbina wanted the detainees to be brought to his courtroom in D.C. from Cuba on Oct 10 and then released to fellow Uighurs living in the Capital.
In his dissent, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wisely pointed out the obvious; our nation is “at war with radical Islamists” and said the ruling “will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.”
Let’s hope judges with common sense will prevail over Urbina’s absurd decision. But if more terrorist prisoners petition the U.S. courts for release and Obama becomes President, how likely is it that his administration would appeal a similar ruling Urbina’s? Not likely, and our national security would greatly be threatened.