59 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 11 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/10/09

The Obama-Holder-Panetta Legal Disconnect

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   1 comment
Become a Fan
  (11 fans)

Barack Obama, Eric Holder and Leon Panetta are all lawyers, And Holder and Panetta both work for Obama. Wouldn't that suggest that they would agree on really important issues - at least in public?

Well, apparently they don't. And Obama's recent interview with the New York Times editorial board provides lots of examples.

During that session, President Obama stated categorically:

"We ultimately provide anybody that we're detaining an opportunity through habeas corpus to answer to charges."

Then how do we explain the conflicting position taken by the President's Attorney General, Eric Holder, and the Department of Justice he runs?

In a filing in federal court, lawyers from Obama's DOJ said that detainees held at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts. That's exactly the position taken by George W. Bush. And it's not what the president told the New York Times.

Human rights advocacy groups argue that Bagram detainees should have the same rights as Guantanamo detainees because they are de facto under U.S. control.

The U.S. government is holding more than 600 prisoners at Bagram. Some claim they are victims of "extraordinary rendition" by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), while many more say they have been tortured and abused at the facility just outside Kabul.

Back in early January, the ACLU filed court challenges to the Bush-era policy on behalf of four detainees taken to Bagram from outside Afghanistan. That policy, based on the Supreme Court's Boumediene decision, is now being reviewed by a U.S. Court of Appeals.

In that landmark case, the Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration's position that the detainees held at Guantánamo had no right to challenge the legality of their detention in U.S. courts. The ACLU - and many constitutional scholars -- now claim that the same right must be extended to the roughly 600 detainees held in U.S. custody at Bagram, many of whom have been held for years without access to legal counsel or the courts.
"The Obama administration did the right thing by ordering Guantánamo closed. But a restoration of the rule of law and American ideals cannot be achieved if we allow 'other Gitmos' to be maintained around the globe," says Anthony D. Romero, head of the ALCU.

This issue is likely to generate even more contention in coming months, as Obama deploys thousands of additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan and a 60-million-dollar expansion doubles the capacity of the Bagram detention center.

Bagram was set up by the U.S. military after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Like Guantánamo, it was designed to be out of the reach of U.S. courts - a legal black hole - during the so-called "war on terror," which lacks geographical or durational boundaries.

Like Guantánamo, it holds individuals from all over the world, including locations where there are no combat operations taking place.

Like Guantánamo, it holds terrorism suspects who were not captured on any battlefield. 

Like Guantanamo, it houses victims of the Bush administration's extraordinary rendition program.

And like Guantánamo, there are well-documented reports of serious prisoner mistreatment and torture at Bagram.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

WILLIAM FISHER Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)


Liberties Lost Since 9/11

The Silence of the Sheep


Law Professors Outraged by Senate Vote on Indefinite Detention

Feel Safer Now?

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend