Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Obama Formalizes Indefinite Detention At Gitmo - UPDATED

Dafna Linzer of ProPublica (on TPM) has details. Basically, Obama orders indefinite detention (apparently without trial) for "dozens" of detainees and trials before a military tribunal for "a handful of other" detainees. The list of detainees selected for indefinite detention is itself secret, even from the detainees:

The executive order affects only those detainees designated for indefinite detention. The board will also examine whether some cases that had been referred for prosecution are still viable. Currently, 47 of the 172 detainees at Guantanamo have been selected for indefinite detention. The list is secret -- even the detainees do not know they are on it -- and, privately, officials have said the list is likely to grow. About three dozen others could be prosecuted, but it is unclear where.

 Then there is the whole sorry business of the administration's interpretation of "right to counsel":

The major difference is that the White House, sidestepping claims that detainees have a right to counsel, will allow them to hire private attorneys The order states that the government will not pay legal fees. While detainees will have access to some evidence against them, the government will choose what evidence to share. The process is meant to be more adversarial than it had been under the Bush administration. Detainees can submit their own evidence to the review board but will be permitted to call only those witnesses the government determines to be reasonable. It is unclear whether a detainee can dismiss his personal representative or how the lawyer and representative will work together. The order allows a detainee to make his case for release once every three years.
As has been the case in the past, it appears that every effort is being made by the Obama administration to thwart every reasonable hope a detainee might have of actually winning his case. This is not justice. Trials with limited access to counsel and evidence, government-limited witnesses and the threat that the accused will be detained no matter what the outcome are trials that make a mockery of the fundamental concepts of American justice.

Obama inherited this atrocity from Bush, but as the subject of the linked article says, Obama owns indefinite detention now.  As long as he insists on tricks like this, no amount of politicking can improve his stature in my estimation. Civil liberties are nonnegotiable.

UPDATE 3/8 evening:  Glenn Greenwald has more.

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