Thursday, July 30, 2009

Going Home

It looks like there just might be some real justice for one Guantanamo Bay detainee: Mohammed Jawad might be sent home to Afghanistan in three weeks, unless, of course, the Obama Justice Department operates the same way the Bush Justice Department did.

From McClatchy DC report:

The Obama administration on Wednesday said it plans to release a young Guantanamo detainee after military and civilian judges banned almost all evidence against him that they ruled was extracted through torture. ...

Government attorneys, however, reserved the right to file new charges in federal court against Mohammed Jawad if they find evidence against him before he's freed.

The Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle to grant them 22 days to release Jawad — seven days to notify Congress of the release plans, as current law requires, and then 15 days until a cooling off period mandated by law expires.

If no new charges are filed during that time, the government said it would promptly release Jawad. The Justice Department didn't specify where it would send him, but his lawyers say they expect he'd be returned to his native Afghanistan.

There are several significant points in the story. The first is that the judiciary did the job they are sworn to do. By ruling inadmissible evidence garnered through torture, Judge Huvelle and the military commission judges made clear that the rule of law trumps torture and that such unlawful behavior by the government will not be tolerated by the courts.

The second point is that the government didn't make its usual noises about an immediate appeal, which hopefully means that the Department of Justice may have just blinked when it comes to "win at all costs" prosecution.

The third point is a bit more troubling, however. The prosecution has reserved the right to refile the charges if it can find enough evidence that hasn't been tainted by torture to do so, and it wants the court to give them that 22 days to find that evidence by claiming that the law requires such a delay, something young Mr. Jawad's lawyers noted:

Jawad's lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union said that while they're hopeful that their client will be sent home soon, they think the government should move more quickly.

"We're cautiously optimistic that they appear closer to recognizing that Mr. Jawad needs to be sent home as soon as possible," said Jonathan Hafetz, a lawyer with the ACLU's National Security Project. "We remain concerned by some of the arguments they make with regards to the court's power to order an immediate remedy."

Hopefully the judge will rule quickly on the requested delay so that even if the government's request is granted, the clock will start running.

It's time for the release of Mohammad Jawad. It's long past time for an end to this obscene display of a government's power run amok.

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