Posts Tagged ‘Indefinite Detention’

Gitmo Numbers

Posted on February 8, 2013 at 12.08 pm

$800,000: Annual cost to tax-payers of maintaining one prisoner in Guantanamo Bay.

166: The number of prisoners currently in Gitmo.

86: The number of prisoners currently in Gitmo who have been cleared for release but not actually released.

46: Detainees scheduled for indefinite detention without charge or trial.

15: The age of arrest of the youngest Gitmo detainee ever, Omar Khadr, who was “tortured and refused medical attention” because he would not confess.

15: The number of prisoners under the age of 18 who have been kept at Gitmo.

9: The number of inmate deaths at Guantanamo Bay.

6: The number of those deaths suspected to be suicides.

2009: The year Obama was supposed to close Gitmo.

2013: The year he closed the office dedicated to closing Gitmo.

NDAA 2013: A few comments

Posted on May 16, 2012 at 4.58 pm

Recently the initial text of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2013 was released.  As you no doubt recall, this is the bill whose previous version caused quite a justifiable uproar thanks to its dubious and unconstitutional treatment of indefinite detention.

Now that the new NDAA is out, the White House has released a series of objections to the bill.  This is by no means comprehensive, but I’ve got a few comments on both.

Title X, Subtitle D, Sections 1032 & 1033

This is a weird one.  1033 says that nothing in the last NDAA “shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus,” even though that was pretty much what everyone construed.  But that comes right after 1032, which quotes the clause in the Constitution about suspending habeas corpus (so, you can suspend it, but you’re not?  Is that what you’re trying to say?)…and then follows that with a quote about how habeas corpus is really, really important.

Better legal scholars than I (read that as: real legal scholars) agree that this is kinda weird.

It’s worth noting that the text says that the NDAA shouldn’t be construed as denying habeas corpus “in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution” — but the September 11 terrorist trial, for instance, is occurring in a military tribunal which does not fall under Article III.  This means that, in practice, the NDAA 2013 is saying, “If we indefinitely detain you, you should hope that we try you in a civilian court, because you’ll have rights there.  But if, as we’ve done with other terror suspects, we opt for a military tribunal, tough luck.”

Interestingly, the Obama statement does not mention indefinite detention, which is perhaps to be expected given how he said he’d veto it the last time around, and then caved, ultimately signing it on the Saturday which was New Years Eve, if I recall correctly — a move which ensured the action would get minimal news coverage.

Fortunately, Representatives Justin Amash and Adam Smith are working to at least add an amendment to guarantee that no one of any citizenship will be denied due process if captured on U.S. soil.  This doesn’t completely fix the problem, but it’s a start.


5 Reasons to Oppose the NDAA

Posted on December 14, 2011 at 6.15 pm

This piece is published as an original, featured article at Campaign for Liberty.

Suppose you were a humanitarian relief worker.  You spend your time at home and abroad bringing food aid to those whose lives have been devastated by disaster.  You feel like you’re devoting your life to a good cause and truly helping your fellow man.

Then the U.S. government sends you to jail.  Without a charge or trial.  Forever.

When the War on Terror is over, you’re told, you might have a sporting chance of getting out.  Because the War on Terror is totally going to end any day now, right?  Dream big, detainees!

If that doesn’t strike you as a good scenario, your instincts are correct.  It is, however, a conceivable situation if the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, or S.1867) is signed into law.  Under the bill’s Section 1031, the federal government will claim the authority to indefinitely detain anyone, anywhere, if it deems them a threat in the fight against terror.  Indeed, the NDAA “designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland,” as Senator Lindsey Graham, as strong supporter of the measure, has put it.  And the qualifications for being a terrorist threat are vague—so vague, in fact, that a “relief worker could end up in indefinite military detention without charge or trial for giving food or medical assistance to someone who turns out to have been a Taliban member or supporter.”

To say this is a scary bill is to utter a massive understatement, and it’s no wonder that civil libertarians of all political persuasions have been up in arms as the NDAA passed the Senate with a whopping 93 percent approval rating from our “representatives.”  So here are five reasons to join the fight against the NDAA:

1. It’s easily abused.  As Jon Stewart cleverly pointed out, the NDAA’s language in describing potential detainees is so broad that a case could be made for indefinitely detaining President Obama.  Senator Rand Paul reported that other people who could be considered potential terrorists are those missing fingers and those storing seven or more days of food store in their house.  At least the connection with the seven days of food thing is obvious; everyone knows the road to terrorism is paved with canned goods and Sam’s Club membership, right?

In short, as the example I gave above also illustrates, the NDAA creates a giant highway for the government to take toward abuse some of our most basic rights…and then declares that all land everywhere might be highway. (more…)