Monday, March 7, 2011

Dock Of The Bay

Remember when President Obama promised to close Guantanamo?  That was then, this is now.   Despite the success of trying alleged terrorists in federal court (see And Justice For All), the Administration has ordered the resumption of military tribunals at Guantanamo and has issued an executive order with procedures for periodic review of Guantanamo detainees who have been neither charged, convicted nor designated for transfer.

It is true that this is not all the fault of the Administration.  Their attempt to try high profile suspects in federal court in New York was met with fierce opposition and public outcry, and Congress passed a bill (that Obama signed) which prohibited spending Defense Department funds to transfer detainees to the U.S. for trial.  But while the Administration claims it is committed to federal civilian trials and will seek to repeal the restrictions imposed by Congress, this latest move appears to concede that indefinite detention and military tribunals adequately protect prisoners' rights. 

There remain 127 detainees at Guantanamo.  It appears that the first military tribunal under the new rules will involve Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is alleged to be behind the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Al-Nashiri has been held at Guantanamo since 2006, and the CIA has previously admitted to waterboarding him. 

As Elisa Massimino, president of Human Rights First, stated  “This is a step down the road toward institutionalizing a preventive detention regime.  People in the Mideast are looking to establish new rules for their own societies, and this sends a mixed message at best."   And as Hina Shamsi, of the ACLU's National Security Project put it:  "The best way to get America out of the Guantanamo morass is to use the most reliable tool we have -- our criminal justice system.  Instead, the Obama Administration has chosen to institutionalize unlawful, indefinite detentions and to revive illegitimate military commissions, which will do nothing to remove the stain on America's reputation that Guantanamo represents." 

[Related posts:  And Justice For All Update, We Are The World]


Post a Comment