Consequences of Habeas Schmabeas Rule

As Kathy wrote earlier, the Bush administration has left in its wake a literal big mess for the Obama administration to clean up regarding the processing and trials of Guantánamo Bay detainees.  In order to enact the rule of law decided and ignored during the Bush administration, President Obama and his colleagues must cobble together lackadasically-kept dossiers to ensure that those detained by the U.S. receive fair habeas corpus hearings.

According to today’s Washington Post, Shrub & Co. kept vital information relevant to 245 detainees “scattered throughout the executive branch.”  Predictably, former Bush administration officials are croaking under conditions of anonymity, either stating that there never were comprehensive files or turning the lack of comprehensive records into a fledgling partisan issue, claiming that the Obama administration is “looking for excuses” to delay justice that should have been delivered years ago.

The gist of the article beyond the buck passing is that since Guantánamo opened in early 2002, not even the basic file assembly and cataloguing afforded to your average traffic law offender was extended to 245 people charged with being terrorist suspects.  Has your mind been blown yet?  The dangers of evidence tampering and manipulation, hearsay, fruit of the poisonous tree (in wake of the growing likelihood of information secured by torturous practices), and basic faith and credibility in our justice system and practices — all of these potentialities are running roughshod over 245 people’s lives and chances of receiving fair hearings.

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has more on how this fits into the scheme of snatch-and-torture “justice” U.S. intelligence officials have been performing for the past 7 years, including links to reports about how these practices substantively affect any implementation of the rule of law.  By obfuscating “security reasons” and through a labyrinth of databases, the government has disenfranchised and orphaned over 200 people, endangering their abilities to seek justice in the U.S. court system.

I’m trying to have faith that, with due diligence and a lot of time investment by Obama administration officials, the files and information needed for these detainees may be gathered adequately within Obama’s prison closing deadline of a year.  I personally do not see the chaos of allowing the prisoners at Guantánamo to be held in our current prison system.  Hell, people who are not accused of crimes — people who are only undocumented and living and working in this country — are held in conditions resembling a prison facility.  It’s not like our penitentiaries are run like fucking top-dollar apartments in Manhattan.  (Maybe for some, but not for all.)

But by this point, I think that the best efforts leading to justice for these detainees would happen in The Hague.  If Obama really wants to restore our standing in the international community and to reinstate the rule of law here in the United States, now is the time to bind ourselves to the Rome Statute, submit to international justice, and start cleaning up the deeply entrenched messes our previous partisan warhawk regime has wrought.  The damage is growing too deep and too great for our national court systems to fix alone.

From there, Obama can work with Congress to create a court system built to promote justice over fear, and the world can help seek the truth where Obama seems to stay his hand.

3 Responses to “Consequences of Habeas Schmabeas Rule”

  1. Kathy says:

    Sylvia, I took the liberty of adding the reference and link to my post on this same news item, which I had posted a little while before you put yours up.

  2. opit says:

    The 9/11 conspiracy crowd has long noted interesting legislation passed ‘before the act’ as it were. Think about the implications of this…and note the date'_Protection_Act

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