Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No Right to Due Process Here

Last month the US Supreme Court ruled that detainees held at Guantanamo Bay have a right under habeas corpus to challenge their detention in a civil court. Apparently that right is meaningless, for Agence France Presse reports that the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA., has just ruled that the President of the United States may jail people arrested on US soil indefinitely, without charge. It seems that the Bush Administration's legal fiction of "enemy combatant"-- someone who is neither a soldier (and thus, when detained, a prisoner of war and thus afforded the protection of the Geneva Conventions) nor a civilian (and thus considered a human being afforded standard human rights)-- trumps all. According to the 4th Circuit Court, the only right the detainees at Guantanamo have is that of challenging the designation. And if a court decides to allow them to be branded with the legal fiction, then they have no human rights, just as the Bush Administration has been claiming all along.

Legal fictions, of course, are endlessly elastic. That's the reason they're so dangerous. Just something to bear in mind.

P.S. In an article yesterday, The Toronto Star provided a link to a brief You Tube clip of the 7-hour video of an interrogation of Omar Khadr, the Canadian who was incarcerated at Guantanamo when he was 15. He was shot twice in the back and captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan.

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