Saturday, November 12, 2005

Strategy of the weak

"A foreign national who is captured and determined to be an enemy combatant in the world war on terrorism has no more right to a habeas corpus appeal to our courts than did a captured soldier of the Axis powers during World War II," Senator Joseph Lieberman

"Our strength as a nation state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak, using international fora, judicial processes, and terrorism." The Pentagon's National Defense Strategy, March 2005
There are two totalitarian aspects of our growing global network of "detention facilities": the physical abuse, torture and sometimes murder of detainees, and the lack of any legal recourse for those detainees to challenge their incarceration. These are facts. The legal status of these facts has however remained in limbo. The unlimited right to torture and abuse detainees has been forcefully challenged by the Senate. However, the right to hold prisoners forever without charge was ratified by the Senate earlier this week.

Five Democratic Senators, including the supposedly liberal Ron Wyden of Oregon, "provided the margin of victory on Thursday for a Republican-backed measure that would deny prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the right to challenge their detention in federal courts." Republican Senator John McCain, who led the Senate fight against torture, also voted for the measure. Since the Bush administration has already determined that they are "illegal combatants," these prisoners, unlike captured Axis soldiers in WWII, have no recourse to international law either. The Senate's elimimation of the right of habeas corpus thus reflects the view articulated in the Pentagon's National Defense Strategy that such legal protections are merely a "strategy of the weak" akin to terrorism itself.

UPDATE 11/13: A report on current conditions at Guantanamo

And Indymedia has begun a discussion of what to do about Senator Wyden.

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