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Appeals Court Rules That Gitmo Detainees Are Not "Persons" (And That Torture Is To Be Expected)

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Just when I thought I couldn't be more disgusted with the torture being done in our name and with our tax dollars, another sickening news report comes along:

According to McClatchy Newspapers, a federal appeals court in D.C. "threw out a suit by four British Muslims who allege that they were tortured and subjected to religious abuse in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a ruling that exonerated 11 present and former senior Pentagon officials."

Why? Because "the detainees captured in Afghanistan aren't recognized as 'persons' under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because they were aliens held outside the United States."

Furthermore, the court rejected other claims "on the grounds that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft had certified that the military officials were acting within the scope of their jobs when they authorized the tactics, and that such tactics were 'foreseeable.'"

So, according to the court, the Gitmo detainees are not persons, and the torture should have been foreseeable (in other words, torture is to be expected). In fact, the court said that "the interrogation tactics, which Rumsfeld first authorized in 2002, were 'incidental' to the duties of those who'd been sued." Ouch.

Whether or not the court sees the detainees as persons, they are human beings. As such, they have human rights, and those human rights were violated.

I hope the Supreme Court will set things straight. But I shall not hold my breath.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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