They Are Not People, According To Obama’s DOJ

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From RawStory Sunday morning…

Obama administration: Guantanamo detainees have ‘no constitutional rights’

Joe Byrne, Published: Sunday March 15, 2009

Court documents filed Friday reveal that Obama’s lawyers are arguing that Ex-Guantanamo detainees have no constitutional rights.

The Center for Constitutional Rights(CCR), a non-profit legal advocacy group, is supporting four British citizens – Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Jamal al Harith – in their suit alleging religious mistreatment and torture at Guantanamo Bay. Defendants in the case include Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, the retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The four men say that they were “beaten, shackled in painful stress positions, threatened by dogs and subjected to extreme medical care,” according to the Miami Herald. In addition, they reported being forced to shave their beards, being banned from prayer, being denied prayer mats, and watching a copy of the Koran get tossed in the toilet.

Last year, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in D.C. voted unanimously against the 4 ex-detainees. The Appeals Court claimed that the men did not fit the definition of ‘person’ in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because they were foreigners being held outside the United States. Months later, the Supreme Court instructed the Appeals Court to reconsider their decision, based on a Supreme Court ruling that Guantanamo detainees have some rights under the constitution. On Friday, the CCR re-filed their brief in the D.C. Court of Appeal.

Obama’s justice department is using an old strategy employed by the Bush administration. Their primary argument is that Ex-Guantanamo detainees don’t have any constitutional rights.

Even if they did, the brief continues, Rumsfeld and other officers should be immune from prosecution because detainees’ right not to be tortured and to practice their religion without abuse was “not clearly established” at the time of their detention. The Obama administration supports the earlier decision by the Appeals Court that the ex-detainees do not have constitutional person-hood. The case should be dismissed because of special factors “involving national security and foreign policy,” the government’s brief concludes.

However, “it has long been established that there is an irreducible constitutional minimum that government officials owe to human beings under their control – whether citizen or alien – that necessarily includes the prohibition of torture,” the plaintiff’s brief contends. CCR is disappointed the new administration “squandered this opportunity to separate themselves from the policies of the past and to speak with moral force about torture and religious freedom,” said Michael Ratner, president of the organization.

Obama has decided to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by 2010. On the same day as the ex-detainee’s brief was filed, the White House dropped the term ‘enemy combatant’ from legal documents. The assertion that ex-detainees have no constitutional rights is a problem for non-citizens being detained outside of U.S. borders, who worry that this case will set precedent and enable the military to legally disobey the constitution.


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    • Edger on March 16, 2009 at 13:44

    …the Constitution doesn’t apply to Americans, it doesn’t apply to citizens, it doesn’t even apply to “people.” It applies to the federal government. The body of the Constitution tells the federal government what it is allowed to do, and in some places it explains how to do it (election procedures and such). The Bill of Rights tells the federal government what it is not allowed to do…

    Where exceptions were meant to apply, they are specifically stated. And there are no exceptions stated for any type of guns, for any type of speech, for any specific crimes, or for crimes where non-citizens are involved.

    [The] overriding point [is] that, until a suspected “terrorist” gets a fair and impartial trial, you don’t know whether he is a terrorist. So even if you think non-citizen terrorists have no rights, how do you even know for sure that they are terrorists – or that they are non-citizens – until every facet of due process has been applied.

    The Bush [Obama] administration is trying to establish procedures whereby it can lock up a suspect for life without giving him access to an attorney, without any judicial process, without even letting him tell his family where he is.

    So go back to sleep. Your government will protect you.

  1. I’m back to where I started afraid of my own government. Terrorists, insurgents, enemy combatants all those we deem a threat are nothing compared to the government who is just a subsidiary of the worlds real gangsters. Stealing us blind and terrorizing the world’s people financially and physically. No personhood for people, but corporation they are people. The audacity of hope? I smell sulfur.    

  2. Thanks for “visiting” me, too!

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