17 Apr

Injustice Spreads Through Obama Administration



By: Jim White Friday April 16, 2010 8:15 am  


“I am Merciless Injustice” as seen on the Palazzo Ducale in Venice

via WikiMedia Commons

In comments at Emptywheel’s  Thursday evening post, MadDog alerted us to this article in the Los Angeles Times:

The Obama administration is for the first time drafting classified guidelines to help the government determine whether newly captured terrorism suspects will be prosecuted or held indefinitely without trial, senior U.S. officials said.

The draft document envisions that a small number of suspected terrorists captured in the future could be detained and interrogated in an overseas prison, several of the officials said. At least in the short term, Bagram air base in Afghanistan would be the most likely prison to hold the suspects, they said.

The article goes on to state that the debate over this issue “emerged from the task forces set up by Obama to study detainee issues after he signed executive orders last year abolishing many of the practices instituted during the George W. Bush administration”. Note that in this diary, I discussed the actions of Brig. Gen. Mark Martins as Executive Secretary of one such task force, where he shaped the policy in which prisoners in Afghanistan still are denied due process in reviews of whether their detention is proper. Martins now is the number two in command of JTF-435 in Afghanistan, where he is in a position to carry out the injustice he helped put into offical policy.

It seems particularly significant that the LA Times article refers to Bagram air base as the most likely site for imprisonment and interrogation of terrorism suspects. As I pointed out in yesterday’s diary, the main prison at Bagram has now been closed and replaced with the Detention Facilty in Parwan, but BBC confirmed yet again that a secret detention site, run by JSOC, is still in operation at Bagram. This undoubtedly would be the torture site of choice for the program being described by the LA Times.

As the final act on a day in which we saw the spread of injustice throughout the Obama administration, Spencer Ackerman and Marcy Wheeler filled us in on the appearance of Attorney General Eric Holder at the annual dinner for the Constitution Project, where, as Ackerman described it, Holder proceeded to kick civil libertarians in the teeth.

It’s so sad that this administration has lost track of the simple truth that the centuries-old concept of habeas corpus requires that they prove, through the presentation of evidence not obtained through torture, that a prisoner has been properly detained. This bedrock legal principle is not a menu taken from Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where the government may choose the course that is “just right” from among criminal prosecution, “new, improved” military commissions or indefinite detention without charges. The legal principles that existed prior to 9/11 regarding the arrest of criminals and the capture of prisoners of war are entirely adequate for the current situation, but Obama and Holder seem determined to abolish justice and establish injustice.

For even more injustice, see Glenn Greenwald’s post on the prosecution of a whistleblower in NSA.

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