Cheney, along with his chief of staff, David S. Addington, has devoted much of his time to regaining presidential powers that the vice president has said have deteriorated too far in the decades after the Watergate scandal.
"I don't see how anybody inside the White House could look at the broadest range of decisions that have been made and say anything other than that they've gained at least 85 yards down the field," said Norman J. Ornstein, an American Enterprise Institute scholar on executive-legislative relations.
"If you gain 85 yards and suffer one sack," he added, "you're still winning the game."
Douglas Kmiec, a Pepperdine University law professor, picked up Ornstein's football analogy, referring to the ruling as a "forced fumble" but saying that where the ball might go remained unclear.
"I don't think that means he's going to change the substance of the process much," Kmiec said of Bush. "That puts the ball that's loose in Congress' hands. Will they go in the same direction? There will be an enormous temptation to go home in the summer and put off action."
Administration officials suggested Thursday that some form of courts-martial might suffice for trying terrorism suspects. And Sen. Graham said in an interview that he was "optimistic that the White House is going to be reasonable, will embrace the court decision and come to Congress to be a willing partner in creating a military commission that will protect our country and be fair."
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By the numbers
450 prisoners now held at Guantanamo Bay.
10 charged with conspiring with Al Qaeda.
287 released or transferred to other governments.
115 deemed eligible for release or transfer.
65 deemed likely to be prosecuted if the court had ruled differently.
Source: Times staff