Good News from the DOJ?

(6:00PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

From The Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has determined that detainees tried by military commissions in the U.S. can claim at least some constitutional rights, particularly protection against the use of statements taken through coercive interrogations, officials said.

The conclusion, explained in a confidential memorandum whose contents were shared with The Wall Street Journal, could alter significantly the way the commissions operate — and has created new divisions among the agencies responsible for overseeing the commissions.

First, I have to wonder who in the Obama Administration would pick the Wall Street Journal to share confidential information with.

And although this decision would seem to be a no-brainer, it does show how far we’ve fallen that I would even call this good news.

Finally, they still won’t use the word torture … now it’s “coercive interrogations.”

More on the flip.

The Department of Defense is not happy at the thought the detainees (I call ’em prisoners) may actually have some rights:

Defense Department officials warn that the Justice Department position could reduce the chance of convicting some defendants. Military prosecutors have said involuntary statements comprise the lion’s share of their evidence against dozens of Guantanamo prisoners who could be tried.

In other words, the “lion’s share” of the evidence was obtained by torture.  And so it would be the DOJ’s fault if we can’t convict these folks, because … well just because.

I’m extremely weary of the “too dangerous to release” meme that torture apologists are putting out — and sadly many of these apologists are fellow liberals.

I feel the torturers themselves are far more scary and dangerous to our safety, yet they’re walking around freely, many still working in the military, the CIA and other powerful government agencies.  For me, they are the ones who are “too dangerous” to be given safe haven in the USA, and yet I don’t see any big rush to put them out of jobs, much less prosecute them.

This is just one piece in the tortured (pun intended) process of coming to terms with the human rights abuses of the Bush misAdministration.  As the WSJ article states, even this small concession to reality is not yet a done deal:

Mr. Barron (ed. note: Acting Assistant Attorney General while awaiting Dawn Johnson’s confirmation) said he couldn’t comment on the matter and referred questions to the Justice Department’s public affairs office. A spokeswoman there declined to confirm the memorandum’s existence or discuss whether detainees had constitutional rights, citing “ongoing deliberations.”

There will be much resistance by the Pentagon to this DOJ legal finding if it indeed does become official.  Even something as simple as finding evidence obtained by torture is not allowable is meeting resistance.

Long road ahead, mateys.

13 comments

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  1. … to make any legal analyses on this as that’s not my area of expertise.  Please feel free to link to any good analyses of this potential decision.

  2. from my brain to your keyboard…

    First, I have to wonder who in the Obama Administration would pick the Wall Street Journal to share confidential information with.

    And although this decision would seem to be a no-brainer, it does show how far we’ve fallen that I would even call this good news.

    PDNC had an extra good Torture Digest last night at DK. Wish she would cross post it here. (speaking of lawyers).

    • ANKOSS on June 29, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    How long do you imprison a POW in a war that lasts forever? For life. What all this false controversy over “due process” is about is the refusal to admit that America has entered the Orwellian world of endless war. In an endless war, POWs must be held for the “duration,” i.e., until they die.

    The American people have now accepted endless war and torture of captives. Soon they will accept designating protesters and political dissidents as “unlawful combatants,” who will be thrown into the American gulag forever.

    This is fascism with an American face. This is the National Security State. This is the change you can believe in. Get used to it.

  3. prisoners/detainees receive all of the federal rights they would get in a trial.

    We have to stop making up “new systems,” and we have to follow the “old one,” i.e. the one we use in federal court to try people who are alleged to have committed crimes.  This couldn’t be simpler, and it couldn’t generate more resistance.

  4. nothing new, just more… by way of firedoglake… a good round up.

    • sharon on June 29, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I feel the torturers themselves are far more scary and dangerous to our safety, yet they’re walking around freely, many still working in the military, the CIA and other powerful government agencies.  For me, they are the ones who are “too dangerous” to be given safe haven in the USA, and yet I don’t see any big rush to put them out of jobs, much less prosecute them.

    my sentiments exactly.  had a long discussion with someone at dk the other night who is afraid to free them because of the danger they pose.  little do people realize that we have become a danger to ourselves and the world by torturing, imprisoning without respect for due process, and disappearing people.  the bush admin has done grievous harm to our society.

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