Saturday, July 29, 2006

New Max Security Prison in Guantanamo Bay Opening Soon; Americans Rights in Peril

Considering the fact that the Bush administration has not only been pressured to close their detention facility at Gitmo by a worldwide outcry, but that it has also said it is trying to repatriate hundreds of detainees, the idea that a new, permanent maximum security prison named Camp 6 will open soon seems to be a bit of a mystery. But, what the Pentagon wants, the Pentagon gets.

Via The Independent:

Camp 6, a state-of-the-art maximum-security jail built by a Halliburton subsidiary, will be able to hold 200 prisoners. Commander Robert Durand, a spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said the $30m, two-storey block was due to open at the end of September. He added: "Camp 6 is designed to improve the quality of life for the detainees and provide greater protection for the people working in the facility."

Just another money-making scheme for Halliburton, obviously, as if that company hasn't already made enough from this so-called 'war on terrorism'. Cheney's buddies must be thrilled.

Zachary KatzNelson, senior counsel with the group Reprieve, which represents 36 Guantanamo prisoners, argued that public opinion and the courts would ultimately force the US to close the camp down. "If Bush had the choice, he would not shut it, and the men [held there] would never see the light of day, and neither would their stories come out," he said. "The reality is that the world knows too much. He has to shut it down."

Unlikely, especially since it's been revealed that the Bush administration, in defiance of last month's Supreme Court Hamdan decision has crafted a new draft legislation to circumvent that decision.

WASHINGTON - U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill.

A 32-page draft measure is intended to authorize the
Pentagon's tribunal system, established shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks to detain and prosecute detainees captured in the war on terror. The tribunal system was thrown out last month by the Supreme Court.
According to the draft, the military would be allowed to detain all "enemy combatants" until hostilities cease. The bill defines enemy combatants as anyone "engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners who has committed an act that violates the law of war and this statute."

Legal experts said Friday that such language is dangerously broad and could authorize the military to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens who had only tenuous ties to terror networks like al Qaeda.
Scott L. Silliman, a retired Air Force Judge Advocate, said the broad definition of enemy combatants is alarming because a U.S. citizen loosely suspected of terror ties would lose access to a civilian court — and all the rights that come with it.

You can kiss your rights goodbye, Americans.

The administration's proposal, as considered at one point during discussions, would toss out several legal rights common in civilian and military courts, including barring hearsay evidence, guaranteeing "speedy trials" and granting a defendant access to evidence. The proposal also would allow defendants to be barred from their own trial and likely allow the submission of coerced testimony.

Law professor Marty Lederman has posted a copy of the first draft and outlines the legal aspects of the bill. Needless to say, they are frightening.

So, while the Bush administration appears to express concern about the fate of its detainees, it is actually attempting to broaden its executive power once again. Will the Republican-led congress finally say 'No' or will we discover that more Americans are in peril than ever before from a government intent on stripping away its legal protections in the name of a war that, it seems, will never end?

Will these proposed measures be enough to provoke millions to take to the streets in order to stand up for those rights or will many simply acquiesce with the old justification 'I'm not a terrorist, so I don't care'?

Perhaps they need to be reminded of these statistics:

Of all the prisoners ever held at Guatanamo since it was established in January 2002, only 10 have been formally charged. An investigation earlier this year by New Jersey's Seton Hall University showed that, based on the military's own documents, 55 per cent of prisoners are not alleged to have committed any hostile acts against the US, and 40 per cent are not accused of affiliation with al-Qa'ida.

The same documents suggested only 8 per cent of prisoners are accused of fighting for a terrorist group, and that 86 per cent were captured by the Northern Alliance or Pakistani authorities "at a time when the US offered large bounties for the capture of suspected terrorists".

No comments:

Post a Comment