08 February 2011

Guantanamo detainee dies in custody

My post earlier this week "Guantanamo detainee dies in custody" has elicited a vigorous and heated interchange in the comments section.  I typically leave comment debates alone as long as they don't deteriorate into "ad hominem" personal attacks on each other, but one comment today deserves a rebuttal:
Constitutional right? He's a terrorist, NOT an American citizen, he has NO Constitutional rights.
That's wrong.   Ethically wrong - and Constitutionally wrong.  Here's a repost of a TYWKIWDBI post from one year ago:

Excerpts from Glenn Greenwald's column at Salon:
A 48-year-old Afghan citizen and Guantanamo detainee, Awal Gul, died on Tuesday of an apparent heart attack. Gul, a father of 18 children, had been kept in a cage by the U.S. for more than 9 years -- since late 2001 when he was abducted in Afghanistan -- without ever having been charged with a crime... This episode illustrates that the U.S. Government's detention policy -- still -- amounts to imposing life sentences on people without bothering to prove they did anything wrong.

Gul was imprisoned for 8 years without a shred of due process (outside of internal Bush Pentagon "administrative reviews") and finally had his Constitutional right to obtain habeas review affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2008. His habeas petition was fully submitted and orally argued almost a full year ago, yet even in the face of his prolonged, due-process-free imprisonment, the federal judge presiding over the case just never bothered to rule on his claims. There's a well-known legal maxim that "justice delayed is justice denied," but this goes well beyond merely violating that. Taking almost a full year -- at least -- to decide a habeas petition for someone who is languishing in indefinite detention for their ninth year is simply inexcusable...


  1. I hope there is a special corner of Hell reserved for Bush, Harper, Cheney, Rumsfeld and all the other vicious, ideology-blinded murderers who opened Gitmo and continue to run it despite promises to shut it down. Yes, I'm talking abut you, Obama.

  2. He died after waterboarding (no, wait, it was after exercising on an elliptical trainer).

  3. It bother me to be American when I hear things like this. Our government is always trying to instill their idea of 'human rights' in other countries and encouraging them to treat their people more fairly. How can anyone, any government, take us seriously when we do the same thing. We can't say "Do as I say, not as I do", that doesn't cut it with my mom, it's not gonna cut it with an entire country. How about the U.S. work on it's own issues before jumping on other countries and their behavior. It's democracy not hypocrisy.

  4. Unfortunately this kind of thing happens all over the world , you just never hear about it or no one knows the truth. Sometimes it takes violence to fight violence.
    There was probably some intelligence about this man that could not be proved , but none the less promted his arrest and may have saved countless other inocent lives.
    I for one feel safer knowing that our leaders take such a hard stand against terroism.

  5. Anonymous #4

    Real freedom and justice isn't based on:



    Childish excuses of "two wrongs make a right"

    So basically you feel safer despite having no actual foundation or factual information for that safety.

  6. Well let me put it this way.
    Do you know the actual facts of why this man was arrested and detained.
    Do you have any real proof this story is even true? Or would you like to go hug a tree and sing nice little song about world peace.

  7. Oh and Steve , if a suicide bomber comes to your home town maybe you should give him a hug too.

  8. US Vet and Anon- if someone accuses you of being a child molester- lock the two of you up and throw away the key- can't take any chances. And if someone shanks your ass- I'm sure you'll both agree, everyone will breathe a little easier.

  9. I don't know if any of this is true at all , but it sure does get people mad, doesn't it.

  10. Putting anyone in jail indefinitely without evidence or due process should have everyone plenty mad in a country that prides itself in being free, just and lawful.

  11. Many of the detainees were not captured on the battlefield but were 'identified' by members of other Afghani tribes who in turn received a cash reward of up to $5K.

    This is an actual fact - Bush, Cheney, et al lied about this every chance they got.

    I think Anonymous and US Veteran are probably happy with the death penalty being carried out despite the numerous innocent people who have been sent to death.

    John McCain himself, before he decided he wanted to be president more than have integrity, has testified that torture does not work. But if you need that to feel more manly or patriotic than the next person, you may have some issues that need to be worked out.

  12. Constitutional right? He's a terrorist, NOT an American citizen, he has NO Constitutional rights. Cage? so are we next going to start calling the cells we keep our rapist, murderers and other convicts closets? Stop the bleeding heart crap and start worrying about how our governments not taking care of anything but themselves.

  13. To the last anon -

    I don't want to argue with your viewpoint re terrorism and counterterrorism, but I do want to correct a misstatement you made that reflects an uninformed view of our Constitution:

    "Constitutional right? He's a terrorist, NOT an American citizen, he has NO Constitutional rights."

    That's totally wrong:
    "The principle that the Constitution applies not only to Americans, but also to foreigners, was hardly invented by the Court in 2008. To the contrary, the Supreme Court -- all the way back in 1886 -- explicitly held this to be the case... Over 100 years ago, the Supreme Court explicitly said that the rights of the Constitution extend to citizens and foreigners alike. The Court has repeatedly applied that principle over and over."

    See my new post today for more detail and links.

  14. This article in The Onion seems the proper response to the agitated Anon above:


  15. US Veteran,
    If that person understands the basic idea of due process better than you, than yeah, I'd consider that person a lot more aware of the concept of democracy and justice than you.

  16. If you're convinced that letting any of the Guantanamo inmates loose would get innocent civilians killed (and I have no doubt the Obama administration is convinced of this) then letting them go would seem to be wrong. Is anyone in favor of letting Khalid Shiek Mohammed go?

    So I'm kind of wondering why it's not ethical to keep KSM and the rest of them there until they die of old age? It doesn't set a precedent that American citizens can be held without trial - though apparently we're doing that with dangerous sex criminals who have finished out their sentences but who aren't being allowed to rejoin society.


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