Terrorism

Bush Administration Loses Guantanamo Claim

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A panel from the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit looks at the evidence from the first "secret" case out of Guantánamo, and finds it lacking.

In the first case to review the government's secret evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal appeals court found that accusations against a Muslim from western China held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable claims. The unclassified parts of the decision were released on Monday.

With some derision for the Bush administration's arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.

The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem "The Hunting of the Snark": "I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true."

"This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true," said the panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The unanimous panel overturned as invalid a Pentagon determination that the detainee, Huzaifa Parhat, a member of the ethnic Uighur Muslim minority in western China, was properly held as an enemy combatant.

The panel included one of the court's most conservative members, the chief judge, David B. Sentelle.

More "judicial activism" like this would be welcome.  Only about eight percent of the prisoners in Gitmo are suspected to be actual Al Qaeda fighters.  Thus far, just one of the 680 held at the facility at the height of its capacity in May 2003 has been convicted.  The Bush administration's approach to actual evidence against the people it has been detaning has thus far amounted to little more than "just trust us."  It's a good thing the courts are asking for a bit more than that.

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  1. It’s about fucking time.

  2. Why do those judges hate America?*

    * Not my opinion. Just getting it out of the way, because I know people who are thinking it.

  3. If this guy wasn’t a terrorist before we picked him up, he may seriously consider it when we let him go.

  4. I’m stuck on being impressed that the judges have read some Lewis Carrol that wasn’t “Alice in Wonderland”.

  5. With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.

    Is there any chance we can start seating three-judge panels to review claims politiciand make about national security threats in the process of arguing for the necessity of going to war? Because that sounds awfully familiar.

  6. War crimes.
    War. Crimes.

  7. So whaddya think — did they have some other, possibly embarrassing, unstated reason for holding this person? Or is it just a matter of casting a net sloppily in the hope of catching some really valuable fish, while believing that nobody would perform quality control?

  8. Or is it just a matter of casting a net sloppily in the hope of catching some really valuable fish, while believing that nobody would perform quality control?

    I think that’s far more likely. Never attribute to malice that which can be more adequately explained by jackassery.

  9. And then they continue to hold onto them because admitting mistakes is too embarrassing?

  10. Alice might’ve had some words of wisdom for the government, too. Or, at least, Jefferson Airplane might have:

    When the men on the chess board,
    Get up and tell you where to go.
    And you just had some kind of mushroom,
    And your mind is moving slow.
    Go ask Alice,
    I think she’ll know.

    When logic and proportion
    Have fallen sloppy dead.
    And the white knight is talking backwards,
    And the Red Queen’s “Off with her head!”
    Remember what the dormouse said.

    Feed your head.
    Feed your head.

  11. I often wonder if part of the motivation is not political. The detainees can and have been used as a potent political club to bash “liberals and Democrats” with. You do something that seems to the world egregious (detainment for years without charges), the more cosmopolitan* liberal set almost has to complain, and then you trot out the “liberals hate America and give support to our enemies” stuff. I wouldn’t put it past Rove to at least suggest that the administration not be in too much of a hurry to resolve this in a way that would pass the approval of courts and the international community…

  12. * I don’t think cosmopolitan is a bad thing but a good thing btw

  13. The administration’s logic has been like something out of Alice.

    “These are bad men in Gitmo.”
    “Hmm, then let’s try these men.”
    “No, we can’t try them they are bad men.”
    “But this way we would know they are bad men.”
    “We can’t do that with such BAD men.”
    “But how will we know they are bad unless we have a trial?”
    “We can’t give these BAD men a trial.”

    Arggh..

  14. Why do they still refer to it as the “Bush Administration”? Would the Bush Regime, or the Bush Dictatorship be more appropriate?

    JT
    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  15. MNG, sometimes I think that they genuinely don’t see the difference between what advances their partisan political interest and what advances our national security and interests.

    How many Cheetos-stained momma’s boys think that their Democrat-bashing blogs are a front in the War on Terror?

    These people do have a habit of smooshing together different types of conflicts into a Unified Theory of Everything.

  16. I don’t get it, weren’t these procedures that have resulted in this decision the ones that folks here described as the biggest atrocity since Auschwitz?

  17. Actually Daniel, the Democrats put the habeas-like procedure, before a federal court, back into the bill, and IIRC, Reason supported that.

    As a way of mitigating the kangaroo-court-ishness they were decrying.

  18. I think we have a new name for the war on terror:

    The Snark Hunt.

  19. I love it. As soon as a case like this comes up and the judges laugh it out of court, all of those who were saying that we can’t bring these guys to trial are going to be saying: “See? The system works! What were all you civil libertarians worried about?” I’m starting to think that the only terrorists worth worrying about are holding elected office.

  20. That’s some good snark right there

  21. Why do they still refer to it as the “Bush Administration”? Would the Bush Regime, or the Bush Dictatorship be more appropriate?

    On the intertubez, its been the Bushreich since, I dunno, probably January 20, 2001.

  22. I’m just waiting the administration to argue that “they may not have been terrorists when we grabbed them but, after spending six years locked up with actual terrorists with whom they may have sympathies, you can bet they want to hurt the U.S. now.”

  23. Why isn’t this bigger news? It’s not on the front page, although a story about how our interrogation techniques were copied verbatim from Communist China is–which is kind of ironic, since this story shows how we’re doing China’s dirty work of detaining their “inconvenient” Uighurs for them.

  24. I don’t think cosmopolitan is a bad thing but a good thing btw

    Neither do I. But I do disapprove of it being used as a definition of libertarianism.

  25. Too bad Eichmann didn’t have our courts.

  26. “This case displays the inadequacies of having civilian courts inject themselves into military decision-making,” said Glenn M. Sulmasy, a law professor at the Coast Guard Academy and a national security fellow at Harvard.

    So, basically, the civilian courts ask the military to give them secret info, the military says no thanks, the civilian court says well then you have to release this guy (to where is unclear since apparently the 100 countries we asked all said no).

    Well, if he blows himself up in a shopping mall like some of the other we’ve released we can all pat ourselves on the back for protecting civil liberties.

  27. I know, TallDave, it’s a shame that the courts aren’t willing to simply take the Executive Branch at its word on the guilt or innocence of a suspect. What the hell is wrong with them?

    And you of all people are in especial danger: Given the amount of strawmen that you have put up around yourself, all it would take is one terrorist with a lighter and we’re talking massive wildfire.

  28. I’m not sure ToolDave realizes this, but ‘Mommy, I wet my pants’ isn’t actually a legal argument.

  29. I’d imagine the administration is more than happy to let some of these guys go…they need to free up room for the folks we’ll nab during the invasion of Iran.

  30. “””Well, if he blows himself up in a shopping mall like some of the other we’ve released we can all pat ourselves on the back for protecting civil liberties.””””

    Freedom is not free.

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