Friday, May 21, 2010

The black hole of Bagram

Hoping that the fourth time is the charm -- having been reversed in Rasul, Hamdan, and Boumedienne -- the D.C. Circuit reverses the district court ruling that alleged "unlawful enemy combatants" at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, held without trial for 7+ years, have no right to habeas, and thus presumably can be jailed until they die with no trial.

H/t Adler at the VC, where I posted pretty much all that I can say about this:
These “unlawful enemy combatants” have been held for 7 or 8 years without being tried for whatever “unlawful” acts they supposedly committed. That’s crap, and that’s why habeas relief is proper.

And it’s flat out disgusting that Barack Obama, head of the executive branch and responsible for its acts, (1) appealed this decision, (2) holds these men without trial, and (3) hasn’t moved to repeal the MCA or the DTA. What a sad joke all his rhetoric proves to be.
... Meanwhile, in the UK, we see "Change You Can REALLY Believe In":
A judge will investigate claims that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the torture of terror suspects, William Hague, the foreign secretary, said tonight. The move was welcomed by civil liberties campaigners and may put pressure on the Labour leadership candidate and former foreign secretary David Miliband, who was accused by Hague, while in opposition, of having something to hide. Miliband has repeatedly rejected the accusation and broadly indicated that he or his officials may have been misled by foreign intelligence agencies about the degree of British complicity.

Hague’s remarks appear to have caught the Foreign Office by surprise, as no details were yet available on how the inquiry will be conducted, its terms of reference or when it will start work. Hague will come under pressure to ensure the inquiry is public and comprehensive. He first called last year for an independent judicial inquiry into claims that British officials had colluded in the torture of Binyam Mohamed, the former Guantánamo detainee and a UK resident. Mohamed claimed that he was tortured by US forces in Pakistan and Morocco, and that MI5 fed the CIA questions that were used by US forces.
Wow, it's as if Hague regarded this, not as a campaign speech, but as a genuine legal and moral imperative.

As Scott Horton notes: "The Obama Administration should watch and learn a bit about how a modern democracy approaches the question of accountability for torture." But it appears that Obama is more interested in protecting his "black hole" in Bagram, precisely the kind of habeas-free zone that Cheney and Addington sought to create at Gitmo for the precise purpose of torturing prisoners. What's Obama's motive? Time will tell.

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