Balkinization  

Friday, September 10, 2004

Ghost Detainees

JB

This Washington Post story about "ghost detainees"-- prisoners held secretly out of the knowledge of the International Red Cross, or anyone else, for that matter-- is particularly important given the Supreme Court's recent decisions in Hamdi and Rasul. The right to habeas corpus means nothing if you can't raise the issue because no one knows that you are being held. The same goes for the protections of international law.

Ghost detainees are usually people thought to be higher up in terror networks, and therefore potentially more dangerous. However, given the Adminstration's remarkably bad track record at accusing people of terrorism and later having to confess that it had exaggerated such claims, one begins to lose confidence in this sort of excuse. Moreover, one cannot defend hiding people from the Red Cross because one wants to prevent the outside world from knowing how they are being treated or what sort of interrogation techniques are being used on them. One should not be able to defend violations of international agreements signed by the United States on the grounds that this will help prevent the discovery of even more serious violations.

In the past three and a half years we have repeatedly seen this Administration choose secrecy and lack of accountability over Rule of Law values. It is a sorry legacy, and each new revelation only makes one wonder what else they are hiding that is even worse.



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