Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Bad news for human rights

Posted by Charles II on February 22, 2009

Stephen Foley, London Independent:

Less than a month after signing an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, President Barack Obama has quietly agreed to keep denying the right to trial to hundreds more terror suspects held at a makeshift camp in Afghanistan that human rights lawyers have dubbed “Obama’s Guantanamo”….

human rights groups say they are becoming increasingly concerned that the use of extra-judicial methods in Afghanistan could be extended rather than curtailed under the new US administration. The air base [Bagram] is about to undergo a $60m (£42m) expansion that will double its size, meaning it can house five times as many prisoners as remain at Guantanamo….

The Department of Justice would only say that the legal briefs in the Washington case “speak for themselves”. It says Bagram is a special case because, unlike Guantanamo, it is sited within a theatre of war.

Mr Obama has pushed out the wider questions about the US policy on detaining terror suspects and supporters of the Taliban in Afghanistan until the summer, ordering a review that will take six months to complete.

3 Responses to “Bad news for human rights”

  1. Reuters UK mentioned this, too — and also this:

    …Obama has not yet decided what to do about the makeshift prison at the U.S. military base in Bagram, where the U.S. government is holding more than 600 prisoners, or whether to continue work on a $60 million prison complex there.

    In late January, Obama directed a task force to study the government’s overall detainee policy and report back to him in six months.

    But the new administration faced a February 20 deadline to tell U.S. District Court Judge John Bates whether it would “refine” the Bush administration’s position on four men being held at Bagram who have filed suit against their detention.

    In a brief filing with the court on Friday, the Justice Department said it would stick to the previous government’s position, which argued the four men — who have been detained at Bagram for over six years — had no right to challenge their detention in a U.S. court.

    In other words, this could just as well be a move to get more time to study the issue — and to see which prisoners can be safely released — as it is what the people who choose to view this in the worst possible light (many of whom either backed another candidate in the primaries or who are so reflexively cynical they are, ironically, easily rolled) say it is. I keep thinking back to how so many persons fell onto rhetorical fainting couches back when Obama didn’t unequivocally condemn offshore drilling. So far I’ve yet to see any of those persons take back their statements when Ken Salazar announced the undoing of Bush’s offshore-drilling plans.

    Even the lead counsel for three of the four Bagram detainees, while obviously disappointed, is stating that she hopes that this is not the Obama DoJ’s final word on the subject — and she, in any event, is not as inclined to tossing around incendiary language as the persons (anonymous and otherwise) cited in the Independent article:

    Barbara Olshansky, lead counsel for three of the four detainees and a visiting professor at Stanford Law School, said she was deeply disappointed that the Obama administration had decided to “adhere to a position that has contributed to making our country a pariah around the world for its flagrant disregard of people’s human rights.”

    She said she hoped that the Obama administration was merely signalling it was still working on its position regarding the detainee issue.

  2. Charles II said

    I hope your interpretation is right, PW. I fear it is not.

  3. Stormcrow said

    If I had to make a guess – and that’s all this next is – I’d guess that Obama isn’t going to part with any of the powers Bush aggregated to the Presidency by choice.

    He’s getting ready for the coup attempts and the civil war. When these eventuate, he’s going to need the biggest stick he can find.

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