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Thread: Justice Dept recommends about 50 GITMO detainees be held indefinitely

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Justice Dept recommends about 50 GITMO detainees be held indefinitely

    Justice task force recommends about 50 Guantanamo detainees be held indefinitely



    A Justice Department-led task force has concluded that nearly 50 of the 196 detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be held indefinitely without trial under the laws of war, according to Obama administration officials.

    The task force's findings represent the first time that the administration has clarified how many detainees it considers too dangerous to release but unprosecutable because officials fear trials could compromise intelligence-gathering and because detainees could challenge evidence obtained through coercion.

    Human rights advocates have bemoaned the administration's failure to fulfill President Obama's promise last January to close the Guantanamo Bay facility within a year as well as its reliance on indefinite detention, a mechanism devised during George W. Bush's administration that they deem unconstitutional.

    "There is no statutory regime in America that allows us to hold people without charge or trial indefinitely," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

    But the efforts of the task force, which this week completed its case-by-case review of the detainees still being held at Guantanamo Bay, allows the Obama administration to claim at least a small measure of progress toward closing the facility.

    "We're still moving forward and in a much more deliberate and less haphazard manner than was the case before," said an administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the recommendations have not been made public. "All policies encounter reality, and it's painful, but this one holds up better than most."

    The task force has recommended that Guantanamo Bay detainees be divided into three main groups: about 35 who should be prosecuted in federal or military courts; at least 110 who can be released, either immediately or eventually; and the nearly 50 who must be detained without trial.

    Administration officials argue that detaining terrorism suspects under Congress's authorization of the use of force against al-Qaeda and the Taliban is legal and that each detainee has the right to challenge his incarceration in habeas corpus proceedings in federal court.

    In a May speech, Obama said detention policies "cannot be unbounded" and promised to reshape standards. "We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified," he said.

    The group of at least 110 detainees cleared for release includes two categories. The task force deemed approximately 80 detainees, including about 30 Yemenis, eligible for immediate repatriation or resettlement in a third country. About 30 other Yemenis were placed in a category of their own, with their release contingent upon dramatically stabilized conditions in their home country, where the government has been battling a branch of al-Qaeda and fighting a civil war.

    Obama suspended the transfer of any Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen in the wake of an attempted Christmas Day airliner attack, a plot that officials said originated in Yemen. Effectively, all Yemenis now held at Guantanamo have little prospect of being released anytime soon.

    "The task force recommendations are based on all of the known information about each detainee, but there are variables that could change a detainee's status, such as being ordered released by the courts or a changed security situation in a proposed transfer state," an administration official said.

    Moving a significant number of detainees to the United States remains key to the administration's now-delayed plan to empty the military facility. The federal government plans to acquire a state prison in Thomson, Ill., to house Guantanamo Bay detainees, but the plan faces major hurdles.

    Congress has barred the transfer of the detainees to the United States except for prosecution. And a coalition of Republicans opposed to any transfers and some Democrats critical of detention without trial could derail the possibility of using the Thomson facility for anything other than military commissions, according to congressional staffers.

    The task force comprised officials from the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security and Justice, as well as agencies such as the CIA and the FBI. Officials said that the process of assessing the detainees was extremely challenging and occasionally contentious, but that consensus was reached on each case in the end.

    Some European officials, who would like to see Guantanamo Bay closed without instituting indefinite detention, are advocating the creation of an internationally funded rehabilitation center for terrorism suspects in Yemen and possibly Afghanistan. They say such a facility would gradually allow the transfer of all detainees from those countries back to their homelands, according to two sources familiar with the plan.

    A majority of the detainees slated for prolonged detention are either Yemeni or Afghan, and European officials think the others could eventually be resettled under close supervision.

    European officials hope to raise the issue at an international conference in London next week that will address the situations in Yemen and Afghanistan.

    "We are running out of options, and the administration needs to seriously consider this," said Sarah E. Mendelson, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the author of a report on closing Guantanamo Bay. "There is lots of really good expertise on rehabilitation, and the administration needs to invest in it."

    The Bush and Obama administrations considered helping Yemen formulate a rehabilitation program, but the idea foundered amid concerns about the Middle Eastern country's capacity to implement it, officials said.

    Since Obama took office, 44 Guantanamo Bay detainees have been repatriated or resettled in third countries, including 11 in Europe.
    The administration anticipates that about 20 detainees can be repatriated by this summer, and it has received firm commitments from countries willing to settle an additional 25 detainees who have been cleared for release, officials said.

    Within a few days, sources said, four other detainees are slated to be transferred out.

    Justice task force recommends about 50 Guantanamo detainees be held indefinitely
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    What If You Were Indefinitely Detained?

    The Obama administration has officially decided that it will continue to detain around 50 terrorist suspects without trial. And if the administration is taking this position with respect to people who have already been held for as long as eight years, "they will almost certainly take the same position with respect to people picked up in the future," says Jameel Jaffer, the director of the ACLU's National Security Project.

    Pretty much everyone agrees with the idea that real terrorists should be in jail. The problem is that the government sometimes makes mistakes about who is a terrorist, or who committed terrorist acts. It's made them before, and it will make them again. The Obama administration is just as capable as the Bush administration was of mistakenly imprisoning an Afghani goatherder or two dope-smoking tourists.

    Thanks to the Supreme Court, these folks can now challenge their detention by filing a habeas corpus petition in federal court. But as Glenn Greenwald explains, "mere habeas corpus review does not come close to a real trial, which the Bill of Rights guarantees to all "persons" (not only 'Americans') before the State can keep them locked in a cage."

    " Shouldn't the government have to have evidence before it can imprison someone forever? So the problem the Obama administration now faces is, as Jaffer says, "wanting to close Guantanamo without ending the policies"—namely indefinite detention without trial—"that Gitmo represents." That's a "purely cosmetic change," Jaffer says. And as Spencer Ackerman demonstrates in his excellent one-act play, "Indefinite Detention Of The Soul," there's simply no reason for Democratic senators to support moving Gitmo if the change is purely cosmetic.

    What If You Were Indefinitely Detained? | Mother Jones
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Even Stalin had show trials........

    Obama To Indefinitely Imprison Detainees Without Charges


    One of the most intense controversies of the Bush years was the administration's indefinite imprisoning of "War on Terror" detainees without charges of any kind. So absolute was the consensus among progressives and Democrats against this policy that a well-worn slogan was invented to object: a "legal black hole." Liberal editorial pages routinely cited the refusal to charge the detainees -- not the interrogation practices there -- in order to brand the camp a "dungeon," a "gulag," a "tropical purgatory," and a "black-hole embarrassment." As late as 2007, Democratic Senators like Pat Leahy, on the floor of the Senate, cited the due-process-free imprisonments to rail against Guantanamo as "a national disgrace, an international embarrassment to us and to our ideals, and a festering threat to our security," as well as "a legal black hole that dishonors our principles." Leahy echoed the Democratic consensus when he said:


    The Administration consistently insists that these detainees pose a threat to the safety of Americans. Vice President Cheney said that the other day. If that is true, there must be credible evidence to support it. If there is such evidence, then they should prosecute these people.
    Leahy also insisted that the Constitution assigns the power to regulate detentions to Congress, not the President, and thus cited Bush's refusal to seek Congressional authorization for these detentions as a prime example of Bush's abuse of executive power and shredding of the Constitution.

    But all year along, Barack Obama -- even as he called for the closing of Guantanamo -- has been strongly implying that he will retain George Bush's due-process-free system by continuing to imprison detainees without charges of any kind. In his May "civil liberties" speech cynically delivered at the National Archives in front of the U.S. Constitution, Obama announced that he would seek from Congress a law authorizing and governing the President's power to imprison detainees indefinitely and without charges. But in September, the administration announced he changed his mind: rather than seek a law authorizing these detentions, he would instead simply claim that Congress already "implicitly" authorized these powers when it enacted the 2001 AUMF against Al Qaeda -- thereby, as The New York Times put it, "adopting one of the arguments advanced by the Bush administration in years of debates about detention policies."

    Today, The New York Times' Charlie Savage reports:

    The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release, an administration official said on Thursday.
    The Washington Post says that these decisions "represent the first time that the administration has clarified how many detainees it considers too dangerous to release but unprosecutable because officials fear trials could compromise intelligence-gathering and because detainees could challenge evidence obtained through coercion." Once that rationale is accepted, it necessarily applies not only to past detainees but future ones as well: the administration is claiming the power to imprison whomever it wants without charges whenever it believes that -- even in the face of the horrendously broad "material support for terrorism" laws the Congress has enacted -- it cannot prove in any tribunal that the individual has actually done anything wrong. They are simply decreed by presidential fiat to be "too dangerous to release." Perhaps worst of all, it converts what was once a leading prong in the radical Bush/Cheney assault on the Constitution -- the Presidential power to indefinitely imprison people without charges -- into complete bipartisan consensus, permanently removed from the realm of establishment controversy.

    There are roughly 200 prisoners left at the camp, which means roughly 25% will be held without any charges at all. Using the administration's perverse multi-tiered justice system, the rest will either be tried in a real court, sent to a military commission or released.

    What this means, among other things, is that the President's long-touted policy of closing Guantanamo is a total sham: the essence of that "legal black hole" -- indefinite detention without charges -- will remain fully in place, perhaps ludicrously and dangerously shifted to a different locale (onto U.S. soil) but otherwise fully in tact. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the Military Commissions Act unconstitutionally denied the right of habeas corpus to Guantanamo detainees -- a principle the Obama administration has vigorously resisted when it comes to Bagram detainees -- but mere habeas corpus review does not come close to a real trial, which the Bill of Rights guarantees to all "persons" (not only "Americans") before the State can keep them locked in a cage.

    Numerous Democrats have spent the year justifying Obama's desire for indefinite detention with dubious excuses that would have been unthinkable to hear from them during the Bush years. I addressed all of those excuses in full back in May, here. As but one example, the claim most commonly cited to justify Obama's actions -- these detainees can't be convicted because the evidence against them is "tainted" by torture -- is: (a) completely unproven; (b) completely immoral (it's one of the longest-standing principles of Western justice that tortured-obtained evidence can't be used to justify imprisonment); and (c) completely contradictory (Democrats spent years claiming, and still do, that torture doesn't work and produces unreliable evidence; if that's true, who could possibly justify indefinitely imprisoning someone based on torture-obtained -- i.e., inherently unreliable -- evidence?). Whatever else is true, both Obama's policy and the rationale -- we must imprison Terrorists without charges because there's no evidence to convict them but they're somehow still deemed too dangerous to release -- is exactly what the Bush/Cheney faction endlessly repeated to justify its "legal black hole."

    But no matter. If there's one thing we've seen repeatedly all year long, it's that many Democrats simply do not believe in the axiom best expressed by The New York Times' Bob Herbert when he said that "Americans should recoil as one against the idea of preventive detention." As Herbert wrote: "policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House." That precept should be too self-evident to require expression and yet is widely rejected. Hence, exactly that which very recently was condemned as "a dungeon, a gulag, a tropical purgatory, and a black-hole embarrassment" is now magically transformed into a beacon of sober pragmatism from a man -- a Constitutional Scholar -- solemnly devoted to restoring America's Standing and Values.

    * * * * *
    Yesterday, prior to this decision being announced, I conducted a 20-minute interview with ACLU Exeuctive Director Anthony Romero regarding that group's newly released report on Obama's civil liberites record after the first year in office, pointedly entitled: "America Unrestored." I'll post that discussion later today. Additionally, I will have an analysis of the Supreme Court's obviously momentous decision in Citizens United -- invaliding restrictions on corporate and union election spending -- posted later.

    UPDATE: Just to add some thick irony to all of this, today is the one-year anniversary of President Obama's Executive Order to close Guantanamo within one year -- an anniversary the administration decided to celebrate not by fulfilling its terms, but instead by announcing that the central feature of Guanatanamo -- indefinite detention with no charges -- will continue indefinitely.

    Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
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