Boumediene, Habeas Corpus, Indefinite Detention Without Due Process

First, please read Glenn Greenwald’s summary of the course of the practice of indefinite detention by the United States. Here’s a short excerpt:

(2) The Boumediene Supreme Court decision was a 5-4 vote; thus, four Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold the constitutionality of imprisoning human beings indefinitely, possibly for life, without even the minimal protections of a habeas hearing. Had Anthony Kennedy voted with his conservative colleagues, not only would Boumediene and dozens of others still be wrongly imprisoned, but the power which the U.S. has long taught its citizens is the defining hallmark of tyranny — the power to imprison without due process — would have been fully enshrined under American law.

Then please read Boumediene’s own story of his nightmare at the hands of the U.S.

Boumediene’s story was published, dateline Nice, France, on January 7, my late father’s birthday. That’s my father, who went into combat along with all the Bates brothers, to save us from totalitarian rule and protect due process of law in America. That’s my father, who taught me to love my country despite all its manifest flaws, to take pride in its righteousness and yet condemn the outrages it committed and try to correct them. My father would have been horrified at Boumediene’s treatment. I know I am.

This is not the country I grew up loving. This is not even the painfully flawed nation of the stark inequality of minorities, especially before the mid-Sixties. This is not even a nation that repudiates torture.

In short… America is broken. America needs repair. And I do not see how the repair can be accomplished. If America continues practicing indefinite detention without due process of law, practicing raw torture, perpetuating dire economic hardship among half its people… how long can it last? How long should we want it to last?

(H/T Avedon Carol for the link to Greenwald’s article.)

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  • L'Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Tuesday January 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    How very thoughtful, wise and painful post!
    The whole planet has become a huge Guantanamo.
    Nowadays, societies are manipulated more than ever.
    Why? … because they are terrified!

    • Steve  On Tuesday January 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      Enfant, this was a difficult post for me to write. It is a point on the line of my transition from citizen of America to citizen of humanity at large… and connecting the realizations in this post may mean that the point is a turning point.

      I can never be the same kind of American I was as a child, or even as a young or middle-aged adult. For the loss of that ability, I owe a bitter but sincere thanks to the people in the Occupy movement, who at their best are classic followers of the methods of Gandhi… and like Gandhi’s original followers, pay for their nonviolent civil disobedience in blows rained upon them by police in riot gear, no longer law enforcement personnel but law debasement personnel.

      I have no idea where this goes from here. I cannot help feeling that America’s future, American citizens’ future and the future of the world that inevitably encounters this nation transformed for the worse… is a dark one.

  • MandT  On Tuesday January 10, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    America has lost my loyalty and I’m am not terrified to say so.If I could afford to leave I’d return to the ancestral homeland of my grandparents.I do not think most Americans are weak and terrified. We are being subverted by a coup of neo-liberal traitors that are systematically destroying our founding principles and laws. What has happened to Habeas and due process is pure fascism.

    • Steve  On Tuesday January 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      MandT, the right-wing nut-jobs are fixated on “loyalty” because it gives them a lever, a virtual crowbar with which to pry open Americans’ humanity, empty out what is good and force raw hostility in its place.

      Am I loyal to America? Wrong question. I am not loyal to torture. I am not loyal to indiscriminate murder using remotely piloted drones. I am not loyal to summary imprisonment without habeas corpus or any other due process of law. Those have become American practices in the past decade or two… but nothing can turn them into American principles. To American principles I can remain loyal… those that I read about in our founding documents and perceived in better times even in my younger years… but that in turn implies that I must be forever an outsider in today’s American world, fighting against the worst of my nation’s excesses.

      Like you, I am by now unafraid. I am unafraid of terrorists, not just those who fly planes into buildings but also those terrorists who use the powers of our government to undermine everything I stand for… everything we as a nation once stood for, worthy even with all its awful imperfections. I’ve had a splendid life, and they cannot intimidate me now with rubber bullets and pepper spray and recklessly wielded batons.

      Past a certain point, you cannot cripple a cripple!

  • MandT  On Tuesday January 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    With a brave heart and intellect of your quality. cripple is the last word I would use to describe a true patriot of the old Republic.

    • Steve  On Wednesday January 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      Thank you, MandT. I don’t feel so brave, but I’m very determined.

  • upyernoz  On Wednesday January 11, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    here’s a post about a group of kuwaitis who were in guantanamo.

    hopefully, the 10th anniversary of the gitmo detention will be an opportunity for the voices of the people who were held there to be heard. as long as it remains political popular to talk tough about the people held there, that place will not be closed.

    • Steve  On Wednesday January 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      ‘noz, the events in that article are tragedy atop tragedy. It is a tragedy that those men are imprisoned and tortured for alleged crimes (unproven) they probably did not commit, indeed, for association with charitable organizations. And on top of that it is a tragedy that America, starting with the Bush administration but continuing scarcely abated to this very day, has premeditatedly violated its own most sacred principles of law, again and again, for reasons that have no clear basis and are causing righteous worldwide disdain of America and Americans.

      Aside: if it was Bradley Manning who leaked to WikiLeaks, we owe him thanks for revealing several of the incidents mentioned in the article.

      I shall quote an ancient (likely now deceased) German-American friend of mine from 40 years ago, an American citizen who escaped Nazi Germany, who earned her rights the hard way. When she was at her angriest, she would put on a fake German accent in English (her actual English was nearly flawless) and say, “I is regusted.” And so I am (thanks, Tillie, wherever you are): I is regusted.

  • c  On Thursday January 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Sadly, this is one of the nastier traditions we have kept from our days as a British colony. Like the British, historically, we have legal rights for our citizens that are generally greater and more advanced than those of almost any contemporary country. And like the British, historically, we feel that those rights are only for us and cease to exist the moment we set foot outside the country or deal with the citizens of any other part of the world.

    • Steve  On Friday January 13, 2012 at 12:30 am

      In fairness, c, that’s not how the Bill of Rights is worded. The word “people” (or “person”) is used throughout, except in the 14th Amendment, which assures citizenship for “[a]ll persons born or naturalized” here. The really basic rights… the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments… are accorded to “people” or to a “person”. IANAL, but IMO that means those rights are NOT restricted to citizens. How much this lack-of-distinction was observed historically may well be a different matter, but in theory, everyone present in the United States has rights just by being human. There are several ways one can argue that torture or indefinite imprisonment without due process… even of noncitizens… is unlawful, and the Bill of Rights is one of them

      • c  On Friday January 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

        Steve, I realize that that isnot how the Bill of Rights of Rights is worded. You are absolutely correct in that. Nevertheless, a certain unfortunate cultural heritage has triumphed over how the Bill of Rights is worded. In my opinion, that is a sad thing.

        • Steve  On Friday January 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm

          c, you mean Bush the Father and his idiot Unfortunate Son and the latter’s nutjob veep and their followers don’t think that way? 🙂 I can’t argue with you there!

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