Thursday, February 18, 2010

Court: No Recourse Anywhere For Abused Guantanamo Detainees

Ruling: No Court Can Hear Abuse and Wrongful Death Claims from Guantanamo

February 17, 2010, New York – Yesterday evening, the district court in Washington, D.C. ruled against two men who died in Guantanamo in June 2006 and their families in a case seeking to hold federal officials and the United States responsible for the men’s torture, arbitrary detention and ultimate deaths at Guantánamo.

Following a two-year investigation, the military concluded that the men had committed suicide. Recent first-hand accounts by four soldiers stationed at the base at the time of the deaths, however, raise serious questions about the cause and circumstances of the deaths, including the possibility that the men died as the result of torture.

In dismissing the case, the district court ruled that the deceased’s constitutional claims that it was a violation of due process and cruel treatment to detain them for four years without charge while subjecting them to inhumane and degrading conditions of confinement and violent acts of torture and abuse, could not be heard in federal court. The men were held on the basis of an “enemy combatant” finding by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal later found by the Supreme Court itself to be inadequate. 

The district court held that the claims were barred by a jurisdiction-stripping provision of the 2006 Military Commissions Act...
I do not know if there is any appeal of this decision possible. If not, any remaining shred of international reputation the United States may have retained regarding its commitment to the law and due process just blew away in the winds. In opening and populating Guantanamo, the Bush administration set out to create a no-man's-land outside the rule of U.S. law and international law. Now Cheney and Bush, with an assist from Barack Obama, appear to have succeeded. I regret to report that the bad guys have won outright.

You may as well pop open a cold one and watch the Winter Olympics. The U.S. is racking up incredible numbers of gold medals this year, and all of that is sure to redeem America's standing in the international community. And the Moon is made of really aromatic green cheese. So relax... here, have another beer.

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