14 November 2005 - Monday

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P. Sabin Willett, in the Washington Post:

As I listened, I wished the senators could meet my client Adel.

Adel is innocent. I don't mean he claims to be. I mean the military says so. It held a secret tribunal and ruled that he is not al Qaeda, not Taliban, not a terrorist. The whole thing was a mistake: The Pentagon paid $5,000 to a bounty hunter, and it got taken.

The military people reached this conclusion, and they wrote it down on a memo, and then they classified the memo and Adel went from the hearing room back to his prison cell. He is a prisoner today, eight months later. And these facts would still be a secret but for one thing: habeas corpus.

Only habeas corpus got Adel a chance to tell a federal judge what had happened. Only habeas corpus revealed that it wasn't just Adel who was innocent -- it was Abu Bakker and Ahmet and Ayoub and Zakerjain and Sadiq -- all Guantanamo "terrorists" whom the military has found innocent.

Habeas corpus is older than even our Constitution. It is the right to compel the executive to justify itself when it imprisons people. But the Senate voted to abolish it for Adel, in favor of the same "combatant status review tribunal" that has already exonerated him. That secret tribunal didn't have much impact on his life, but Graham says it is good enough.

Adel lives in a small fenced compound 8,000 miles from his home and family. The Defense Department says it is trying to arrange for a country to take him -- some country other than his native communist China, where Muslims like Adel are routinely tortured. It has been saying this for more than two years. But the rest of the world is not rushing to aid the Bush administration, and meanwhile Adel is about to pass his fourth anniversary in a U.S. prison.

Press release, Sen. Lindsey Graham's office:

The Need for Habeas Reform As it Concerns Enemy Combatants

* The Supreme Court's Rasul (2004) decision held that federal courts have jurisdiction to hear habeas petitions from Guantanamo detainees.

* For the first time foreign terrorists in U.S. custody have begun claiming the rights and benefits of the U.S. Constitution, our laws, and treaties.

* Over 160 habeas petitions on behalf of approximately 300 detainees have been filed in federal court to date.

* An array of habeas challenges have been filed including those questioning the quality of their food and speed of mail delivery. Others have questioned the legality of their detention, propriety of returning a detainee to their home country, and allotment of exercise time. The Department of Justice is devoting tremendous resources to the litigation of habeas petitions filed by GTMO detainees.

* The federal suits are also slowing our intelligence gathering efforts from detainees. Michael Ratner, a lawyer who has filed lawsuits on behalf of numerous enemy combatants, boasts of this fact. He said, "The litigation is brutal for (the United States.) It's huge. We have over one hundred lawyers now from big and small firms working to represent these detainees. Every time an attorney goes down there, it makes it much harder (for the U.S. military) to do what they're doing. You canít run an interrogation ... with attorneys. What are they going to do now that we're getting court orders to get more lawyers down there?"

* The amendment clarifies the previous understanding of the habeas statute that aliens outside the United States do not have access to our federal courts.

* The amendment only applies to NON-CITIZEN TERRORISTS.

| Posted by Wilson at 19:57 Central | TrackBack
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