Monday, July 23, 2007


The NY Times runs a big story today on a lawyer who worked in the Guantanamo Bay detention center, and filed a scathing review on the procedure of what are called Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT). Basically, those are hearings to determine whether the person being held is an "unlawful combatant" or if he was taken (and jailed) by mistake.

The man at the center is Colonel David Abraham, a lifetime conservative Republican (he cried when Nixon resigned), who is a successful lawyer in the private sector, and enlisted in the Army Reserve to pay back his country for the opportunities given to his father, an immigrant and Holocaust survivor. Colonel Abraham is now speaking out against a lack of due process given to the detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

Here is one example of what he may have witnessed:

[Abraham] said he was prohibited from discussing the facts of cases. But public information, much of it obtained through lawsuits, includes examples of some of the points he made.

In a hearing on Oct. 26, 2004, a transcript shows, one detainee was told that another had identified him as having attended a terrorism training camp.

The detainee asked that his accuser be brought to testify. “We don’t know his name,” the senior officer on the hearing panel said.

Detainees being held have no access to lawyers, evidence, or opposing witnesses. For its part, the Pentagon points out that these CSRT's “afford greater protections for wartime detainees than any nation has ever provided.” However, the war against terror, as President Bush has repeatedly reminded, is a war that will last generations, so these individuals could easily be held for the rest of their lives.

The article is worth a read and you can find a link for it here.

As for my take, I harbor no illusions about terrorists. I know they want to kill me and my loved ones, and that they hate the things I hold most dear. I still remember 9/11 like yesterday, and don't want to see another one ever again. But there is real danger in our country losing its moral high ground, and no harm in giving these detainees regular trials in the states. Our country is pretty damn good at putting people in jail (we do it more than anyone else), and just wait til some of those maximum security types get their hands on al Qaeda.

Anyone in the know will tell you that information gathered through torture is bunk, so I don't see the value of holding these people in a government facility which has become a powerful symbol for American imperialism and injustice not only in the Middle East, but throughout the world. To be perfectly frank, in the war against terror, I think it hurts us more than anything.

1 comment:

Gene said...

Lincoln assumed all powers not delegated in the Constitution, including the power to suspend habeas corpus. In 1861, Lincoln had already suspended civil law in territories where resistance to the North's military power would be dangerous. In 1862, when copperhead democrats began criticizing Lincoln's violation of the Constitution, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus throughout the nation and had many copperhead democrats arrested under military authority because he felt that the State Courts in the north west would not convict war protesters such as the copperheads. He proclaimed that all persons who discouraged enlistments or engaged in disloyal practices would come under Martial Law.

Among the 13,000 people arrested under martial law was a Maryland Secessionist, John Merryman. Immediately, Hon. Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States issued a writ of habeas corpus commanding the military to bring Merryman before him. The military refused to follow the writ. Justice Taney, in Ex parte MERRYMAN, then ruled the suspension of habeas corpus unconstitutional because the writ could not be suspended without an Act of Congress. President Lincoln and the military ignored Justice Taney's ruling.

Lincoln had an Ohio Congressman deported.

Is the Republic less threatened today? And the Surpreme Court only ruled Lincoln's actions unconstitutional AFTER the war ended. This one will take longer.