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June 12, 2008

What? A Supreme Court ruling?

Despite months of lead time, administration officials appeared to lack their usual talking points when scrambling to respond to Thursday’s landmark Supreme Court decision on Guantanamo.

The ruling affirmed the rights of detainees to challenge their imprisonment — contrary to seven years of assertions by Pentagon and Justice Department officials.

This time, officials with both agencies were reluctant to weigh in.

A usually chatty Pentagon spokesman in charge of speaking about Guantanamo remained mum, taping a note on the back on his desk chair listing the phone numbers of Justice Department officials reporters should call instead.

Justice Department media representatives set up a briefing with department lawyers, but insisted the question-and-answer session be off-the-record. They acknowledged it was an unusual demand, but said they couldn’t discuss the decision because they were still reviewing it.

But that meant that nothing from the briefing could be used — not even comments from the obligatory nameless Justice Department officials who usually appear in such stories. Note to readers: You didn’t miss much.

That’s because Associated Press reporter Matt Apuzzo quickly objected, saying the off-the-record rule "does nothing to help anybody understand anything."

When he said he would consider the discussion on the record, he was told he should get off the call. Apuzzo refused, saying "there’s just no reason for this to be an off-the-record call." A conference call mute button prevented 40 other reporters from chiming in.

But Justice Department officials wouldn’t budge and the call was cut short. A follow-up call was hastily rescheduled with a warning: "If you are not able to accept the off-the-record ground rules, please do not join the call."

Without explanation, officials appeared to relent by issuing a terse statement — eight hours after the ruling came down.

No word on when they'll be taking questions.

— Marisa Taylor and Nancy A. Youssef


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How can anyone use the word "conservative" to describe their insistence on the "right" of an authoritarian government to imprison people without judicial review?

Hint: That's not what the word means, look it up please.

Nancy Youssef

Hi everyone: Thanks for all your comments to our blog. You started a fruitful discussion about this important topic, and we appreciate you sharing it with us.

sean roach

okie doke then i have three responses to you.

firsly, the point of my comment was simpily this: how can a person say " It is nice to see that at least 5 of our justices have actually read and iunderstand the Constitution" and then in less than five senteces later misqoute it. "After all if you read the Constitution it states 'All men are created equal...'" in fact without the admendments that where ratified after the civil war the constituion is mute on equality....it legalised slavery. c'mon now.

secondly, men (women and children included) are NOT created equal.

thridly, the constituion of the USA is for the citizens of the USA it does not apply to japanese, english, german and damn sure does not apply to a group of religous extermists, who in case it has been forgotten is doing everything they can to destroy it and all it stands for.

have a good day


All-righty, sean at 2:05, I'll bite. We do not legislate that people breathe a mixture of oxygen & other gases, they simply do. We don't legislate that women can bear children but men can't. Again, they simply do.
Jefferson declared that all men are born equal. There was no need to put this proposition into legislation, it was considered to be simply, a fact.


It serves The G.W. Bush Administration right to see what they have done is to no avail. this will haunt President Bush to no end. He will be remembered not as a great president but as the war monger that he became through the power of the Presidency that he occupied.

sean roach

and show me where the constitution says that all men are created equal. that would be the declaration of independence which has no legal binding, and yes justices can be impeached. good god yall


sean roach at 11:04 says: if the war is about oil, then where is it.

Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!! Sean, Sean, Sean, WHY are you making the assumption that the Bush Administration is COMPETENT!?!?
We said they were evil, we never agreed they were competent as well.


I'm extremely pleased to hear about Matt Apuzzo refusing to take part in a useless, uninformative off-the-record chat. What reporters have to remember is that the government needs a media outlet just as much, if not more, than reporters need sources and stories and exclusive quotes. It ain't a one-sided process and never has been. Reporters have to stop acting like it is. Thanks for refusing to play the game the way the government wants to play it.


Again, the liberals in our court system take another step at destroying America. Does it take another revolution to get the fact across that we want our Republics protected as designed by our founding Fathers and not liberals or socialist? The court is getting as bad as the 9th Circuit.


The reason the Supreme Court is involved is because our AMERICAN PRESIDENT claims to be acting under AMERICAN LAW. Under AMERICAN LAW--military or civilian--it is the Supreme Court who decides what is or is not lawful. The AMERICAN PRESIDENT does not make those decisions. This rule distinguishes our government from that of a theocratic dictatorship. The court seems to be almost evenly divided between justices who believe that the law is our best protection and those who believe that the government is our best protection. It is a tough decision to make in perilous times, but for almost 232 years, we have endured nationally under the spirit that we are better protected when law controls government; not the other way around. America's strength is in her belief that a lawless government is not a reliable protector of its people. The Supreme Court decision was directed at our government's conduct; not at foreigner's rights.

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"Nukes & Spooks" is written by McClatchy correspondents Jonathan S. Landay (national security and intelligence), Warren P. Strobel (foreign affairs and the State Department), and Nancy Youssef (Pentagon).

jon, nancy & warren

Landay, Youssef and Strobel.

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