Andy Worthington brings us “Habeas Week”

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, April 20, 2010

Andy Worthington, an absolutely tireless seeker of the truth as it pertains to the continuing U.S detention of terror suspects abroad, has decided the mainstream news has done such a pathetic job at covering what could be one of the most important national security issues of the decade, that he’s putting up a tutorial for the rest of us who give a damn:

In an attempt to raise awareness of the importance of the rulings being made in US courts on the habeas corpus petitions of the prisoners held at Guantánamo (as authorized by a significant Supreme Court ruling in June 2008), I’m devoting most of my work this week to articles covering the 47 cases decided to date (34 of which have been won by the prisoners), as a series entitled, “Guantánamo Habeas Week.”

The amazing thing is that 34 out of 47 prisoners — that’s 72 percent — have contested their detentions by the federal government in court and won. According to Worthington, their cases were bolstered by the fact that much of the evidence against them was so flimsy:   “primarily, confessions extracted through the torture or coercion of the prisoners themselves, or through the torture, coercion or bribery of other prisoners, either in Guantánamo, the CIA’s secret prisons, or proxy prisons run on behalf of the CIA in other countries,” Worthington writes.

These and other curious and damning revelations have come out through judges’ individual rulings, he adds. For example, Worthington makes the point that we now know that  “the majority of the prisoners” at Guantanamo Bay “were not, for the most part, seized by US forces ‘on the battlefield,’ as senior Bush administration officials claimed, but were, instead, mainly rounded up by the US military’s allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, at a time when bounty payments were widespread, and were never adequately screened at the time of capture to determine whether or not they had ever been engaged in any kind of combat.”

That might well explain the high rate of release among prisoners who the fear-mongers in the last administration (and people like Liz Cheney today) insisted were so dangerous that even the thought of releasing them would be like lobbing a live grenade down Main Street.

Well, Liz can take a breather because the military is appealing some 11 of the cases, ensuring that at least some of those prisoners remain in custody even beyond their victories in court. Meanwhile, 35 alleged terrorists who the government believes has enough evidence to convict, remain in limbo while everyone fights over which court to try them in. Another 44 are cleared to leave, but have no where to go.

A lot of threads to entangle and examine, and Worthington seems ready and more than able to take on the work so we won’t have to. But make no mistake, as Americans, these things are going on in our name, so we have no small obligation here to take Worthington up on his offer and pay attention.




5 Responses to “Andy Worthington brings us “Habeas Week””

  1. I salute Andy Worthington for his tireless work. The ones who were claimed to be the worst of worst turned out be mere foot soldiers or just social workers. Obama has an opportunity to restore our tarnished image but he is too scared of the war mongers.

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  4. [...] Habeas Week” was discussed in detail by Jeff Kaye on Firedoglake and Invictus, by Kelly Vlahos at Antiwar.com, which also posted a link on its front page, and by Jeff Farias, and was cross-posted on The Public [...]

  5. [...] Habeas Week” was discussed in detail by Jeff Kaye on Firedoglake and Invictus, by Kelly Vlahos at Antiwar.com, which also posted a link on its front page, and by Jeff Farias, and was cross-posted on The Public [...]