12/15/09

AGAIN OBAMA ASKS THE US SUPREME COURT TO REFUSE A CASE ABOUT TORTURE

December 14th from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

NEW YORK - December 14 - Today, the United States Supreme Court refused to review a lower court's dismissal of a case brought by four British former detainees against Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officers for ordering torture and religious abuse at Guantánamo. The British detainees spent more than two years in Guantanamo and were repatriated to the U.K. in 2004.


The Obama administration had asked the court not to hear the case. By refusing to hear the case, the Court let stand an earlier opinion by the D.C. Circuit Court which found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a statute that applies by its terms to all "persons" did not apply to detainees at Guantanamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law. The lower court also dismissed the detainees' claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Geneva Conventions, finding defendants immune on the basis that "torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military's detention of suspected enemy combatants." Finally, the circuit court found that, even if torture and religious abuse were illegal, defendants were immune under the Constitution because they could not have reasonably known that detainees at Guantanamo had any Constitutional rights.

So, just like the prisons for citizens of the United States which only allow Christianity for the most part to be practiced, our "detainees" are not allowed religious freedom either. Is anyone starting to see a pattern here? Obama asked them to refuse to rule on this. They allowed the lower court's ruling to stand, which said enemies of the United States can expect torture as a "foreseeable consequence of the military's detention". What? This means the Obama administration wholly supports the Bush administration's policies on torture. They further ruled that the defendants, which would be Rumsfeld and senior military officers, are immune because they could not have known the detainees had any Constitutional rights. Are we expected to believe the Defense Secretary and generals don‘t know the law with regard to detainees, come on, that is why they had it rewritten. They do have constitutional rights, but all they needed to know about was the Geneva Convention which they totally dismissed thumbing their noses at international law. Ask any WWII veteran, they will tell you all about the Geneva Convention, they consider it one of the most outstanding accomplishments of their generation.

Eric Lewis, a partner in Washington, D.C.'s Baach Robinson & Lewis, lead attorney for the detainees, said, "It is an awful day for the rule of law and common decency when the Supreme Court lets stand such an inhuman decision. The final word on whether these men had a right not to be tortured or a right to practice their religion free from abuse is that they did not. Future prospective torturers can now draw comfort from this decision. The lower court found that torture is all in a days' work for the Secretary of Defense and senior generals. That violates the President's stated policy, our treaty obligations and universal legal norms. Yet the Obama administration, in its rush to protect executive power, lost its moral compass and persuaded the Supreme Court to avoid a central moral challenge. Today our standing in the world has suffered a further great loss."
 
Yes, the Obama administration has lost it's moral compass and in asking the supreme court to do his bidding is acting more like a dictator than a president in a democracy that has separation of powers for a reason. This situation that we find ourselves in with the executive branch overstepping it's boundaries and committing criminal acts is the reason our founding fathers created a country with three branches. The purpose was to prevent just the abuses of power that we have had. Without the use of the judicial branch to give justice to not only this country, the world, and especially those who were directly harmed we can never have peace in the world, nor hold our heads up as a country which upholds any kind of morality on this planet. There are those who will seek their own kind of justice without an intervention by our own legally sanctioned justice department because they consider taking their people and torturing them an act of war. We are creating a lot of problems with our policies.

The four former detainees - Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed, and Jamal Al-Harith - were held from 2002 to 2004 at Guantánamo before being sent home to England without being charged with any offense. They filed their case in 2004 seeking damages from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and senior American military officers for violations of their constitutional rights and of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which prohibits infringement of religion by the U.S. government against any person. Their claims were dismissed in 2008 by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit when that court held that detainees have no rights under the Constitution and do not count as "persons" for purposes of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
 
Not treating them like persons is one of the reasons there are terrorists. Of coourse in this country we do not even treat our own citizen prisoners like persons, the main reason for a high recidivism rate.  
 
Last year, the Supreme Court granted the men's first petition, vacated the Court of Appeals decision and ordered the D.C. Circuit to reconsider its ruling in light of the Supreme Court's historic decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which held that Guantánamo is de facto U.S. territory and that detainees have a Constitutional right to habeas corpus.


On remand, the D.C. Circuit reiterated its view that the Constitution does not prohibit torture of detainees at Guantánamo and that detainees still are not "persons" protected from religious abuse. Finally, the Court of Appeals held that, in any event, the government officials involved are immune from liability because the right not to be tortured was not clearly established.

A second petition filed with the Court on August 24, 2009 pointed out that the Court of Appeals decision stands in conflict with all of the Supreme Court's recent precedent on Guantánamo and attacked the notion that the prohibitions against torture and religious abuse were not clearly established in 2002 when the petitioners were imprisoned.
 
Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Attorney Shayana Kadidal, co-counsel on the case, said, "We are disappointed that the Supreme Court has refused to hold Secretary Rumsfeld and the chain of civilian and military command accountable for torture at Guantánamo, and that the Obama administration sought to block torture victims from having their day in court. Where can these men seek justice now for the terrible things that were done to them? The entire world recognizes that torture and religious humiliation are never permissible tools for a government, yet our highest court seems to think otherwise."
 
This means there will never be justice for what happened in Iraq or the prisons which were in several countries where people were tortured. Bush started the ball rolling and Obama is pushing it along.
 
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last seven years - sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA "ghost detainee" there. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at the base, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation, and is representing detainees at Guantánamo before the Supreme Court for the third time this term. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the approximately 60 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.


Baach Robinson & Lewis, a Washington, D.C. litigation firm has been in the forefront of detainee litigation, working on behalf of both Guantanamo and Afghan detainees, since early 2004.
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Senator Conyer on September 3rd 2009:

"These episodes, along with the politicized outcry against Attorney General Holder’s modest step of opening a preliminary investigation – a step that was plainly required by law – make clear yet again the need for an independent bipartisan commission to look at these matters and separate the truth from politicians’ spin. I hope all Americans, including Mr. Cheney, will join in support of a fair, open effort such as this so that all may judge the facts for themselves.



"I also urge the CIA to reconsider its recently reported position and release all key documents on the Bush interrogation program to the American people. It is well past time to ‘rip the band aid’ and get all this information into the open so we can have true accountability and the public can judge these important issues based on the true facts, and free from distortion and spin."

Holder is being lobbied behind the scenes to soften the report on torture, this is probably one of the reasons the promised report from him is taking so long. In an amazing coincidence the "missing" emails from the Bush administration have been "found" they can use them as an excuse to slow down the process of investigation. Under the Presidential Records Act we can't see them for five years. President Bush has the option of making them not available for seven years after that and I would imagine he will take that option.