Obama Administration Opts To Use Navy Ships, Not Secret Prisons, For Interrogations


Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky/wikimedia

Shortly after coming into office President Obama ordered the closing of the CIA's "black" detention sites. At these secret sites the CIA aggressively interrogated people while also denying them access to legal representation. However, despite ordering the closing of these sites, what the Obama administration has been doing instead since 2011 leaves much to be desired.

Instead of having foreigners interrogated in foreign prisons the Obama administration has taken to questioning suspected terrorists aboard U.S. Navy ships. As the Associated Press explains, this allows Obama to not use the CIA's secret prisons while also allowing for suspects to be interrogated indefinitely under the laws of war. (It is worth remembering that in 2009 the Obama administration said that it would continue the Bush policy of sending terrorist suspects abroad to be interrogated, but with more oversight). 

From the AP:

Questioning suspected terrorists aboard U.S. warships in international waters is President Barack Obama's answer to the Bush administration detention policies that candidate Obama promised to end. The strategy also makes good on Obama's pledge to prosecute terrorists in U.S. civilian courts, which many Republicans have argued against. But it also raises questions about using "law of war" powers to circumvent the safeguards of the U.S. criminal justice system.

By holding people in secret prisons, known as black sites, the CIA was able to question them over long periods, using the harshest interrogation tactics, without giving them access to lawyers. Obama came to office without a ready replacement for those secret prisons. The concern was that if a terrorist was sent directly to court, the government might never know what intelligence he had. With the black sites closed and Obama refusing to send more people to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it wasn't obvious where the U.S. would hold people for interrogation.

And that's where the warships came in.

The most recent example of this tactic was reported over the weekend, when U.S. Delta Force and Libyan authorities captured Abu Anas al-Libi, who is accused of masterminding the attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998. Al-Libi is currently being interrogated aboard the USS San Antonio. The Associated Press reports that al-Libi has not been read his Miranda rights.

While it is the case that al-Libi is not being held secretly, it is also the case, as the ACLU's Hina Shamsi told the Associated Press, that this tactic of interrogating suspects on Navy ships "appears to be an attempt to use assertion of law of war powers to avoid constraint and safeguards in the criminal justice system."

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  1. I fucking knew it. Is there any way in which this administration isn't worse than its predecessor? At least Bush had the shock of 9/11 as an excuse for some of his excesses.

    1. And Bush didn't have the nerve to campaign on the promise to end it. This asshole is not just continuing it, but making it all and worse "bipartisan".

    2. I'll bet Bush's plan to colonize the Moon was just him planning two steps ahead.

      1. That's gotta suck, being in a hole on the Moon, when the entire planet thinks no one is there.

        1. How much do you think I could make on a book with this subject?

          An innocent man, sent to a prison on the Moon, in 2005. Forgotten by the world. Forgotten by his family. The turnkey is Warty.

          1. Eleventy billion Moon bucks.

            Virtually all dialogue, very little exposition. No light, no features of note in the room. Just loneliness interrupted by impossible pain and horror.

      2. Colonize the moon? Careful, they might throw rocks at us!

  2. I guess we should call this an investigative kinetic action, not extraordinary rendition.

    1. Kinetic disposition matrices of love.

  3. Questioning suspected terrorists aboard U.S. warships in international waters is President Barack Obama's answer to the Bush administration detention policies that candidate Obama promised to end.

    Still no hope, but at least there's microscopic change.

    Serious question, has Obama ever uttered one truthful thing as president?

      1. I'm not even sure about that.

        1. He'd sure be easy to impeach on the witness stand. You could parade about 100 lies that are totally verifiable as lies. Heck, the judge would likely not even let him testify.

          1. It depends on who nominated the judge.

    1. Serious question, has Obama ever uttered one truthful thing as president?

      Every word Obama speaks is a lie, including "uhhh" and "ummm."

      1. + 1 Dorothy Parker

  4. Love, exciting and new. Come aboard, we're expecting you...

    1. Imagine if ex-Presidents were like B list celebrities. Obama shows up on the Love Boat with Lyle Wagoner, Pam Dawber, Jamie Farrar, and Kaye Ballard.

      1. This is already happening. Bill Clinton shows up Leno

      2. Oh fuck! I know every name on that list. Am I really that old?

  5. Since when do we Mirandize foreign terrorists? And is it a big deal that he hasnt been read his Miranda rights?

    1. Technically you don't ever have to Mirandize anybody. You just wouldn't be able to use what they said in court. Not Mirandizing al-Libi is a good strategy. He'll feel free to tell them all sorts of incriminating things that he knows can't be used against him.

      1. That's if he's tried in the domestic criminal justice system, of course.

    2. I'm still unclear on that as well. One of those issues where I guess I've yet to make a full libertarian conversion. If the terrorist asswipe you captured was in a foreign country outside of US jurisdiction, apprehended in a military action rather than extradited through official channels, I don't see any real reason why you necessarily have to extend him American legal protections. Not to say that you couldn't do it just to show how beneficent you are, but I don't think it should be a requirement.

      1. The reason is is that the Constitution applies (should) to the government no matter where they are.

        1. Yes, if you start drawing circles around which government activities the Constitution applies, those circles have an amazing way of getting smaller and smaller as time goes by. Soon, the Constitution's bar on certain government intrusions are nothing more than words on a piece of paper.

        2. I don't entirely buy into that. There's no real historical precedent for treating POW's to domestic constitutional rights or trying them in civilian domestic courts. And there's long historical precedent for apprehending international criminals in such a way that they can be tried in civilian domestic court. The "War on Terror" kind of treads ground between the two, but I think falls more into the military realm due to the nature of the capture. Repeal the AUMF and start using law enforcement to pick these guys up on international warrants and I'm with you. Capture a guy in a declared war zone, or as part of an authorized military operation, whatever the wisdom of that authorization may be, and I think it sufficiently changes the nature of the game to warrant suspending normal civilian constitutional procedure.

          1. Problem is, there's no declared war. When I think of the precedents for different treatment of POWs than civilian arrests, there was actually a W from which people became Ps.

            The post Korea tactic of using military absent an actual war is what sent us down that path.

          2. There is no "ground between the two".

            A POW is not a criminal and should not be judge by any court at all. And if you think someone is a criminal you should trying him in a "regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples". It could be a military or civil court.

  6. Sort of like agreeing to use a silk rope to hang someone as opposed to a sisal rope.

  7. Start working at home with Google! It's by-far the best job I've had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this - 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to home tab for Register

    ???????? http://ddp.net/g7m

  8. Obama statements have expiration dates. From 2008.

  9. my friend's mother-in-law makes $88/hr on the laptop. She has been fired from work for ten months but last month her payment was $15328 just working on the laptop for a few hours. official website



  10. A ship makes for some impressive water boarding potential.

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