Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Great Writ

Federal judges are still doing their jobs, and one has just done hers admirably. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted a writ of habeas corpus (in a sealed decision) for a Guantanamo Bay detainee who has been held for seven years, probably in a case of mistaken identity. The Miami Herald, probably the best source for news on Guantanamo Bay, has the story here:

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly filed the sealed decision to grant a writ of habeas corpus for Fouad al Rabia, 50, Thursday evening at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The public portion of her order instructed the U.S. government "to take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps'' to arrange Rabia's release "forthwith.''

Mr. al Rabia's lawyers did their job equally as well, pointing out the horrendous circumstances of their client's detention.

Defense attorneys argued at four-day court hearing last month that the U.S. military had worn Rabia down through relentless and abusive interrogation to the point where he falsely confessed that he ran a supply depot in the Battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan in December 2001. ...

His lawyer, David Cynamon, argued at an unclassified portion of his hearing last month that U.S. interrogators learned of Rabia's Arabic honorific, Abu Abdullah al Kuwaiti, and confused him with another Kuwaiti who had the same nickname. That Abu Abdullah did handle logistics and supplies in the showdown between U.S. Special Forces and their allies and loyalists to Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, said Cynamon. But he was killed in the American-led shock-and-awe strikes on al Qaeda fanatics defending bin Laden in a tunnel and cave complex.

"The government's so-called case against Mr. al Rabia was based almost entirely on false 'confessions' wrung out of him by months of clearly improper and abusive interrogation techniques taken right from the playbook of the North Koreans and Chinese Communists,'' Cynamon told The Miami Herald Thursday night. "Our government should be ashamed of itself -- first for using such tactics, then for defending them in court. This is why the writ of habeas corpus matters.''
[Emphasis added]

Mr. al Rabia endured seven years of detention and torture, which would still have been evil even if he was in fact the same man as the one who ran supplies for Al Qaeda, but he wasn't. The US government should have been able to ascertain that fact quite easily if various intelligence people had been checked. That, apparently, would have been too much trouble. Our government's thugs had a guy with a funny sobriquet, one about as unusual as calling a man from Dallas "Tex", and that was enough for them.

Attorney Cynamon got it right: this is indeed why the Great Writ matters.

The Justice Department is still studying Judge Kollar-Kotelly's decision, which means an appeal is still possible. I would hope that this administration has more sense and more appreciation for justice than the last one, but so far it hasn't shown any such change when it comes to Gitmo detainees.

This is one to watch.

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Anonymous larry, dfh said...

...but so far it hasn't shown any such change when it comes to Gitmo detainees.
Maybe, just maybe, the people who actually did the torturing don't want to be investigated. I've written about this before. They could be expressing their displeasure in a number of ways, maybe even something so polite as a "Happy Nov. 22" card.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous larry, dfh said...

And then there is

8:32 PM  

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