As the Supreme Court prepares to hear the next major challenge to Bush's imperial power grab, AlterNet talks with Michael Ratner, who has been at the center of the battle over the administration's human rights assault.
This week, the next round in the Bush administration's epic struggle against 800 years of Anglo-American legal tradition will unfold as the Supreme Court hears the latest in the "Guantanamo cases." The case will hinge on the question of whether detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base have the right to a day in court to challenge the circumstances of their imprisonment. At issue is the more fundamental matter of whether the president of the United States has the power to detain people indefinitely and without due process under the rubric of a nebulous "war on terror."
Since the attacks of 9/11, the Center for Constitutional Rights and its president, Michael Ratner, have been at the center of the battle; CCR's played David to Bush's Goliath from the very beginning.
Ratner and his colleagues are not new to using the legal system to keep the government in check, nor are they unfamiliar with the controversy that inevitably surrounds that process. The Center, born of the civil rights movements of the 1960s, has been at the forefront of human rights litigation ever since. CCR pursued the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in courts around the world and sued both the first Bush administration in an attempt to stop the Gulf War and the Clinton administration for bombing Kosovo. Ratner served as a special adviser to Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the former president of Haiti who was deposed in a U.S.-supported coup, and won a key war crimes case against former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.