Last week, the Supreme Court issued its historic decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. There, it dealt a substantial blow to the Bush/Cheney Administration's plans for the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and, potentially, elsewhere as well - ruling out, for instance, the option of using military commissions without due process to try detainees.
The decision itself has been widely discussed. Less widely discussed, however, has been its backstory.
The Bush/Cheney Administration has been doing everything possible to keep its treatment of purported terrorist detainees out of the federal courts, particularly the Supreme Court. To assist the Administration, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jon Kyl of Arizona engaged in a blatant scam that was revealed during the briefing of Hamdan.
Senators Graham and Kyl not only misled their Senate colleagues, but also shamed their high offices by trying to deliberately mislead the U.S. Supreme Court. Their effort failed. I have not seen so blatant a ploy, or abuse of power, since Nixon's reign.
My apologies for the vagueness of the quote (Dean, apparently, is not big on thesis statements). So what did they do, you ask?
Essentially, they concocted a fake debate on the Detainee Treatment Act and slipped it into the record so that it appeared to have taken place "live." When the Supreme Court was handling the Hamdan case, Senators Graham and Kyl submitted an amicus brief (that is, a deposition from someone with expertise or special knowledge of the issue at hand) cited a debate the two had held on the Senate floor discussing the legislators' intent when passing the relevant bills (judges regularly consider the intent of the lawmakers when interpreting a law, as one would expect).
The problem? The debate was bogus. And it wasn't just bogus, it was concocted by the 2 Republican senators specifically in order to mislead the Supreme Court as to the true intent of the lawmakers. They made up the debate after the bill was signed, had it slipped into the congressional record in such a way that it appeared to have actually occurred at the time, and then cited it to the Court as evidence that the lawmakers meant for the law to say exactly the opposite of what it actually says.