Obama: Violating Habeas Corpus Okay When It’s Not At Gitmo
This must be some of that “change” that Obama is always talking about: a change of names, anyway.
The Obama administration is putting a new plan in place at Afghanistan’s Bagram air field detention facility to bring indefinite detentions there — a practice viewed as a replication of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility’s more noxious functions — to an end. What does it include? Assigning U.S. military officials, who aren’t lawyers, to represent detainees’ interests in administrative hearings, according to The Washington Post. And what does that sound like?
“They’re setting up what amounts to a CSRT,” said David Remes, the legal director of the non-profit Appeal for Justice law firm who represents 19 Guantanamo detainees. A CSRT is the acronym for a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, the old mechanism at Guantanamo to adjudicate not a detainee’s guilt or innocence, but whether he constituted a threat to U.S. national security. Detainees were at the mercy of hearsay evidence and had the burden of proving that they weren’t a threat and the government’s case against them was erroneous. The Bush administration contended that CSRTs provided all the process rights to which Guantanamo detainees were entitled. But in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Boumediene case that detainees were entitled to habeas corpus protections.
There’s no point in closing down Gitmo if we’re just going to replace it with Bagram, is there? Whether its in Cuba or Afghanistan, the President is still breaking the law, not to mention acting unjustly. Habeas Corpus is one of the oldest rights in Anglo-Saxon law, and the fact that it’s been pretty much shredded over the past decade is nothing short of despicable.