"You will not leave this place innocent." Even if you are. Just ask our Senators and Representatives, who preach that UCMJ-violative DOD detention, alone, proves the guilt of detained foreigners

As originally posted in the reader-diary section of Firedoglake.com; the post’s 2009 comment thread is available at that link.

In a court declaration this spring, Kuwaiti citizen Fouad Al Rabiah, a 20-year airline employee, father of four, and college graduate from universities in Scotland and the United States, who has been held prisoner since 2002 without formal charge, or review by a Geneva Convention-compliant Article 5 tribunal, as a de facto non-POW war fighter and/or war criminal, in the off-limits-to-visitors American military prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, and coercively interrogated throughout his imprisonment, wrote:

…a senior [redacted] interrogator came to me [in Guantanamo, in 2002] and said: “There is nothing against you. But there is no innocent person here. So, you should confess to something so you can be charged and sentenced and serve your sentence and then go back to your family and country, because you will not leave this place innocent.”

That March 17, 2009 declaration by Al Rabiah for his habeas corpus court hearing only came into being because, six years after Al Rabiah filed his habeas petition on May 1, 2002, the Supreme Court – in its vital role as part of our third, independent Judicial/Article III Branch of government – in June, 2008 belatedly ordered an end to the severe and unprecedented breach of Constitutional limits by abusive federal military and police authorities, that had been selectively implemented since September, 2001 against foreign Arabs and practicing Muslims at the behest of both the Executive/Article II and Legislative/Article I Branches of our government. As a result, a year after the Supreme Court’s order in Boumediene, a federal district judge this year finally heard and ruled on the merits of Al Rabiah’s 2002 appeal, which asked simply to have the Executive Branch’s reason for its unilateral military imprisonment of Al Rabiah made known to a neutral Judicial Branch magistrate, and accepted or rejected as valid under American law and the law of armed conflict.

Following Al Rabiah’s August, 2009 merits hearing (in anticipation of which his March declaration was filed) – held seven years after it should have been, largely because of the abdication of oversight by Members of Congress of the wars they launch (or, these days, the wars they simply dangerously rubberstamp the launching/expansion of), and because of the many venal authoritarian followers in Congress who politicize and subvert justice for personal gain or personal spite, while refusing to question the far-reaching actions of the largely self-directed Pentagon and CIA – Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled in a comprehensive and clearly-explained opinion, on September 17, 2009:

If there exists a basis for Al Rabiah’s indefinite detention, it most certainly has not been presented to this Court. Al Rabiah’s petition for habeas corpus is GRANTED.

[…]

The Court shall issue an Order requiring the Government to take all necessary and appropriate steps to facilitate Al Rabiah’s release forthwith.

That’s coming from a judge who knows far more than the average Member of Congress about the highly-classified actions of our government in its pursuit of suspicious foreign agents inside the U.S., Kollar-Kotelly having been the presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for most of the Bush/Cheney reign.

This, on the other hand, is coming from one of the most powerful, plugged-in legislators in the House of Representatives – Dave Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Ex Officio member of all 12 of its subcommittees, which fund every agency of the Executive Branch, speaking on the House floor Thursday, October 1, 2009:

Now, this country has a problem. After September 11 we picked up a lot of bad and dangerous characters and shipped a lot of them to Guantanamo. We also picked up, on the basis of bad information, some who didn’t belong there. From what I can tell, it would appear like virtually every single person there now deserves to be there.

To anyone actually trying to pay attention to what the Congress of the United States has allowed to transpire in our military prisons – with essentially no oversight from either its Armed Services (chaired by Carl Levin and Ike Skelton) or Foreign Relations (chaired by John Kerry and Howard Berman) Committees – it’s obvious that Dave Obey, among many, many others in our federal legislature, is not even trying to pay attention to the many horrific consequences of the Congressionally-authorized-and-unleashed years-long Executive Branch use of violent armed force abroad.

To his credit, Obey was actually attempting, without sufficient facts in hand, to rebut [link broken, 2/2012; a search of the Appropriations Committee’s two websites – segregated by Party – failed to retrieve the document] unproven and disproven racism-tinged accusations by Harold “Hal” Rogers of Kentucky about our military’s Arab prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Before I quote some of the wild-eyed, specious claims of Rogers, though, and for the information of Obey and others, including our AWOL media, here’s how things now stand, after the first independent analyses by another branch of government of the Executive Branch’s claims about its military prisoners have finally been undertaken, post-Boumediene, as explained by Harper’s Scott Horton on October 1, 2009:

Seton Hall Law School students and faculty issued a series of impressive reports surveying the available evidence, and they suggested that perhaps as many as 80% of the total inmate population of Gitmo were innocent people, swept up as a result of generous bounty payments the United States offered to Afghan warlords and Pakistani security officials.

Now, as habeas corpus cases are processed, we finally have a basis to judge the Bush-Cheney claims about the Gitmo prisoners. The “judging” is being done by federal judges in Washington, nearly all of them conservative Republicans and quite a few appointed by George W. Bush himself. The results? The process is still ongoing. But at this moment, decisions have been rendered in 38 cases. The government was found to have had a tenable basis to hold eight Gitmo prisoners, and to have no basis in 30 cases. So far at least, the court judgments are remarkable in their coincidence with the numbers from the Seton Hall study. The judicial reviews—which have gotten far less press coverage than the scatter-shot attacks of Dick Cheney and his daughter–can be summarized this way: “Worst of the worst? Not so much.”

Here’s the roll call, with the status, the prisoner involved, the judge who ruled, and the prisoner’s nationality:

Freedom granted—30 (20 of whom are still in custody)

17 Uighurs—Urbina (4 released to Bermuda)

5 Bosnian-Algerians—Leon—(4 released—3 to Bosnia and 1 (Lakhdar Boumediene) to France)

Mohammed el Gharani (Chadian)—Leon (released to Chad)

Yasim Muhammed Basardah—Huvelle (Yemeni)

Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed—Kessler (Yemeni)

Abd al Rahim Abdul Rassak Janko—Leon (Syrian)

Khalid Abdullah Mishal Thamer Al Mutairi—Kollar-Kotelly (Kuwaiti)

Mohammed Jawad—Huvelle (Afghan; released to Afghanistan)

Mohammed Al-Adahi– Kessler (Yemeni)

Fouad Al Rabiah—Kollar-Kotelly (Kuwaiti).

Freedom denied—8

Belkacem Bensayah (Bosnian)—Leon

Hisham Sliti (Tunisian)—Leon

Muaz Al Alawi (Yemeni)—Leon

Ghaleb Nassar Al Bihani (Yemeni)—Leon

Hammamy (Tunisian)—Leon

Waqas Mohammed Ali Awad (Yemeni)—Robertson

Fawzi Al Odah (Kuwaiti)—Kollar-Kotelly

Sufyian Barhoumi (Algerian)—Collyer

As for what lead to those decisions, here’s the burden of persuasion, quoting Judge Kollar-Kotelly in her Al Rabiah decision, that the entire resources of the American military and Executive Branch of government could be called on to meet to win those 38, and any future, cases, in order to keep legitimate armed conflict fighters detained (whether or not they committed any recognized offenses against the law of war) for the duration of the conflict:

Pursuant to the Amended Case Management Order that the Court adopted in this case on December 22, 2008, the Government bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that Al Rabiah is lawfully detained.

[…]

The Government must come forward with evidence demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence that he is lawfully detained, and if the Government fails to meet this burden, the Court must grant Al Rabiah’s petition for habeas corpus.

That’s all. Not “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Not a jury conviction. Simply by “a preponderance of the evidence,” in the judgement of one judge, that the years-long detention by our military of the prisoner at issue is and was lawful under our Constitution, the 2001 AUMF, and the law of armed conflict. If that low standard can’t be met, with all the odds and classified intelligence in the government’s favor, the detainee wins his case – as 30 of 38 have finally succeeded in doing since June, 2008, thanks to the help of many volunteer civilian defense counsel, and many principled active military JAG officers who are quietly working to resist and undo the unjust abuses perpetrated by their own branch of government.

Furthermore, the preponderance of the evidence needs only to demonstrate the following behavior by the prisoner, again quoting Kollar-Kotelly, who is using the same standard already established by several other judges in their Guantanamo habeas proceedings in the D.C. District:

The Court agrees that the President has the authority to detain individuals who are “part of” the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated enemy forces, but rejects the Government’s definition insofar as it asserts the authority to detain individuals who only “substantially supported” enemy forces or who have “directly supported hostilities” in aid of enemy forces. While evidence of such support is undoubtedly probative of whether an individual is part of an enemy force, it may not by itself provide the grounds for detention. Accordingly, the Court shall consider whether Al Rabiah is lawfully detained in the context of the following standard:

The President has the authority to detain persons that the President determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for those attacks. The President also has the authority to detain persons who were part of Taliban or al-Qaida forces or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act in aid of such enemy armed forces.8

In the context of this definition, the “key inquiry” for determining whether an individual has become “part of” one or more of these organizations is “whether the individual functions or participates within or under the command structure of the organization – i.e., whether he receives and executes orders or directions.” Hamlily, 616 F. Supp. 2d at 75.

That is simply a concrete, real-world standard that spells out the limits, as partially interpreted by the Supreme Court since, of the poorly-detailed, open-ended, and never-revisited Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress in 2001 – apparently never to be thought of again by that body, absent a preceding presidential demand for more power.

Yet, with every advantage on their side, including good will for a new administration that is attempting to redeem years of despotic, unAmerican abuses of power and the open contempt for justice of the previous administration, the overwhelming majority of the cases defending armed conflict detention pursued by the Obama DOJ, that have so far been examined by another branch of government, have been dismissed as unlawful.

The impact of those mounting decisions has finally started to penetrate the consciences of some people deep within the same DOJ that’s defending so many specious DOD claims to the right to detain, as this very remarkable semi-anonymous statement to Andrew Sullivan from a current DOJ attorney, posted October 2, 2009, attests:

As a trial attorney with the Department of Justice, I am familiar with the al-Rabiah case (however, to be clear, I am not a trial attorney who worked on the case). My opinions stated herein, of course, are not the opinions of the Department. I write for myself and myself alone.

I had a long conversation regarding the al-Rabiah case with colleagues when the decision came down. Our expertise and experiences are varied, but we all work on matters ranging from criminal matters to civil habeas cases. We are litigators, and we know what makes a case, and when a case is weak.

The conclusion drawn by each of my colleagues – some of whom are liberal Democrats, some of whom are conservative, law-and-order Republicans – is, to a person, that the detention and interrogation program the United States implemented in the months and years following 9/11 is not only a complete abrogation and violation of international law and, in many cases, federal law – it is also fundamentally immoral. We also agree that the al-Rabiah case is by far the most egregious yet to come to light. To repeat: yet to come to light. I can only guess that there are other, far worse cases.

So we have federal judges, including the Supreme Court, currently-serving attorneys in the Obama Executive Branch Department of Justice, and principled military JAG officers all repudiating the ongoing abuses of our military detention system, in the most unmistakable terms – repudiations to which this commendable statement by Air Force Reserve and Jawad military commission defense counsel JAG Major David Frakt, focusing on the 2006/2009 Military Commissions Act, is one recent exemplary contribution:

If the military commissions law is actually rewritten to make the commissions “regularly constituted courts,” as required by the Geneva Conventions, then most of the same rules that apply for “you or me” would apply to detainees. This does not mean that Miranda would apply or that Fourth Amendment search and seizure rules would apply. No one has seriously argued that Miranda or the Fourth Amendment applies to non-citizens captured on a foreign battlefield, or that a warrant would be required for a search of a person or place overseas. Simply moving the detainee into federal court would not suddenly make these constitutional requirements apply retroactively to acts which occurred overseas years ago.

The main point of contention at this point between Congress and the Administration is whether statements which were obtained by coercion, which did not rise to the level of torture, should be admitted. The [Obama] Administration [DOJ Office of Legal Counsel] has proposed a voluntariness standard for admissibility. Had we complied with the Geneva Convention Common Article 3 minimum standard of humane treatment, it is likely that virtually all statements would be considered voluntary. But by direct order of President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld, detainees were not treated humanely, so there are many statements which were obtained involuntarily. These statements are categorically unreliable because of the circumstances under which they were obtained. We have seen, for example, that Binyam Mohammed admitted to a wild assortment of crimes that he did not do while he was being tortured.

“A well-designed military commissions law” in my opinion, would essentially reproduce a general court-martial, which would provide virtually the same due process guarantees as a federal criminal court. Thus, it would not be any easier to get a conviction in a military commission than in civilian criminal court. It is this essential truth that will prevent us from getting a well-designed military commissions law.

I think that if a person is responsible for a major terrorist attack or other serious crime, then the government should be able to prove that with non-coerced evidence. There should be witnesses. There should be physical evidence. There should be circumstantial evidence.

[…]

I reject the premise that “terror detainees” deserve anything less than equal treatment. You are talking about human beings who have been locked up for years and mistreated in the most cruel ways. If they are now to be tried for crimes, then they are entitled to a presumption of innocence and a fair trial. The rights that we afford to defendants in civilian trials are what we have determined to be the minimum standards for a fair trial. No conviction will ever be considered legitimate if acquired in a court that provides anything less.

So, who’s missing, in this fight to reclaim and redeem American principles of justice (besides, of course, most journalists, with a few, shining, exceptions)?

The United States Congress.

The same Congress that is instead saying and doing the following:

Kentucky’s Hal Rogers, October 1, 2009:

I certainly think that that is where the American people stand on this issue as well. They don’t want these terrorists in their hometowns, inciting fellow prisoners in our prisons, abusing our legal system and terrorizing their communities.

[…]

But my point is these are not criminal defendants; these are enemy combatants captured on a battlefield. They are prisoners of war and should be treated as such, as they have [NOT -ed.] been at Guantanamo. Do not bring them to the U.S. for any purpose.

[…]

This motion clarifies and says they would not be brought here for any, any, purpose, including prosecution.

Now, if you have any doubts about the kind of people we are talking about, read the resumes of these detainees. Read them, and you will have no doubt that these are enemy combatants sworn to kill you and every American they can find.

The raving Hal Rogers and others of his ilk apparently have no interest in learning or considering the following facts detailed by Elizabeth Goitein, Director of the Liberty and National Security Project at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, in July, 2009:

[T]he Uniform Code of Military Justice, in accordance with the Third Geneva Convention, requires the U.S. to try prisoners of war using the same courts and procedures used to try our own soldiers (which are the same procedures used in Article III [Judicial Branch] courts). If those procedures are sufficient to try regular prisoners of war—who are far more likely to be captured on an actual “battlefield”—they are sufficient to try the current [DOD-ruled non-POW] detainees.

While disregarding, and discarding, even the long history and precedents of our UCMJ-compliant system of military justice, in order to segregate into an erratic, irregular, ad-hoc system, using lesser or no standards of process and treatment, the alleged foreign adversaries – almost all of the Muslim faith – of our current conflicts abroad, here’s the House of Representatives, acting via its…

FY 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2892), passed 389-37, and now in secret conference with the Senate:

Sec. 552. (a) As part of a plan regarding the proposed disposition of any individual who is detained, as of April 30, 2009, at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba […]

(b) Section 44903(j)(2)(C) of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new clause:

`(v) INCLUSION OF DETAINEES ON NO FLY LIST- The Assistant Secretary, in coordination with the Terrorist Screening Center, shall include on the No Fly List any individual who was a detainee held at the Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, unless the President certifies in writing to Congress that the detainee poses no threat to the United States, its citizens, or its allies. For purposes of this clause, the term `detainee’ means an individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States as a result of armed conflict.’.

(c) None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to provide any immigration benefit (including a visa, admission into the United States, parole into the United States, or classification as a refugee or applicant for asylum) to any individual who is detained, as of April 20, 2009, at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

(d) Nothing in subsections (b) and (c) shall be construed to prohibit a detainee held at Guantanamo Bay from being brought to the United States for prosecution.

[The comments from Rep. Rogers that I quoted above were part of his effort to strike (d), so as to prevent transfer of Guantanamo inmates to the United States even for prosecution.]

And here’s the United States Senate, passing, without committee study or review, a Graham/Lieberman measure to censor from public view America’s mistreatment of its military prisoners – mistreatment usually protested and reported by honorable members of our military – acting via its…

FY 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill amendment to H.R. 2892, passed 84-6, and now in secret conference with the House:

Sec. 567. (a) Detainee Photographic Records Protection-

(1) Short title- This subsection may be cited as the ‘Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act of 2009′.

(2) DEFINITIONS- In this subsection:

(A) COVERED RECORD- The term ‘covered record’ means any record–

(i) that is a photograph that–

(I) was taken during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through January 22, 2009; and

(II) relates to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States; and

(ii) for which a certification by the Secretary of Defense under paragraph (3) is in effect.

(B) PHOTOGRAPH- The term ‘photograph’ encompasses all photographic images, whether originals or copies, including still photographs, negatives, digital images, films, video tapes, and motion pictures.

(3) CERTIFICATION-

(A) IN GENERAL- For any photograph described under paragraph (2)(A)(i), the Secretary of Defense shall issue a certification, if the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, determines that the disclosure of that photograph would endanger–(i) citizens of the United States; or

(ii) members of the Armed Forces or employees of the United States Government deployed outside the United States.

[…]

(4) NONDISCLOSURE OF DETAINEE RECORDS- A covered record shall not be subject to

(A) disclosure under section 552 of title 5, United States Code (commonly referred to as the Freedom of Information Act); or

(B) disclosure under any proceeding under that section.

[…]

(6) EFFECTIVE DATE- This subsection shall take effect on the date of enactment of this Act and apply to any photograph created before, on, or after that date that is a covered record.

And again the United States Senate, acting to cement in place the Bush/Bradbury 2006 Military Commissions Act, with some superficial amendments, acting via its scarcely-debated…

FY 2010 Defense Authorization Bill (S. 1391), passed 87-7, and now in secret conference with the House:

TITLE X–GENERAL PROVISIONS

Subtitle D–Military Commissions

SEC. 1031. MILITARY COMMISSIONS.

(a) In General- Chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code [the 2006 Military Commissions Act], is amended to read as follows:

[…]

Sec. 948b. Military commissions generally

`(a) Purpose- This chapter establishes procedures governing the use of military commissions to try alien unprivileged enemy belligerents for violations of the law of war and other offenses triable by military commission.

[…]

`(d) Inapplicability of Certain Provisions- (1) The following provisions of [the UCMJ] shall not apply to trial by military commission under this chapter:

`(A) Section 810 (article 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice), relating to speedy trial, including any rule of courts-martial relating to speedy trial.

`(B) Sections 831(a), (b), and (d) (articles 31(a), (b), and (d) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice), relating to compulsory self-incrimination.

`(C) Section 832 (article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice), relating to pretrial investigation.

Compare that portion of Carl Levin’s Armed Services Committee-revised Military Commissions For Muslims system to our venerable courts-martial system under the longstanding Uniform Code of Military Justice, established by a Congress of an earlier era that still understood, respected and honored the Constitution’s separation of powers and its safeguards for basic human rights:

The Uniform Code of Military Justice: [link now broken; use this one instead]

802. ART. 2. PERSONS SUBJECT TO THIS CHAPTER

(a) The following persons are subject to this chapter:

[…]

(9) Prisoners of war in custody of the armed forces.

(10) In time of war, persons serving with or accompanying an armed force in the field.

[…]

805. ART. 5. TERRITORIAL APPLICABILITY OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter applies in all places.

[…]

810. ART. 10. RESTRAINT OF PERSONS CHARGED WITH OFFENSES

[…] When any person subject to this chapter is placed in arrest or confinement prior to trial, immediate steps shall be taken to inform him of the specific wrong of which he is accused and to try him or to dismiss the charges and release him.

[…]

813. ART. 13 PUNISHMENT PROHIBITED BEFORE TRIAL

No person, while being held for trial, may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement upon the charges pending against him, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon him be any more rigorous than the circumstances required to insure his presence, but he may be subjected to minor punishment during that period for infractions of discipline.

[…]

831. ART. 31. COMPULSORY SELF-INCRIMINATION PROHIBITED

(a) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to incriminate himself or to answer any questions the answer to which may tend to incriminate him.

(b) No person subject to this chapter may interrogate, or request any statement from an accused or a person suspected of an offense without first informing him of the nature of the accusation and advising him that he does not have to make any statement regarding the offense of which he is accused or suspected and that any statement made by him may be used as evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.

(c) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to make a statement or produce evidence before any military tribunal if the statement or evidence in not material to the issue and may tend to degrade him.

(d) No statement obtained from any person in violation of this article, or through the use of coercion, unlawful influence, or unlawful inducement may be received in evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.

832. ART. 32. INVESTIGATION

(a) No charge or specification may be referred to a general court-martial for trial until a through and impartial investigation of all the matters set forth therein has been made. This investigation shall include inquiry as to the truth of the matter set forth in the charges, consideration of the form of charges, and recommendation as to the disposition which should be made of the case in the interest of justice and discipline.

(b) The accused shall be advised of the charges against him and of his right to be represented at that investigation as provided in section 838 of this title (article 38) and in regulations prescribed under that section. At that investigation full opportunity shall be given to the accused to cross-examine witnesses against him if they are available and to present anything he may desire in his own behalf, either in defense or mitigation, and the investigation officer shall examine available witnesses requested by the accused. If the charges are forwarded after the investigation, they shall be accompanied by a statement of the substance of the testimony taken on both sides and a copy thereof shall be given to the accused.

(c) If an investigation of the subject matter of an offense has been conducted before the accused is charged with the offense, and if the accused was present at the investigation and afforded the opportunities for representation, cross-examination, and presentation prescribed in subsection (b), no further investigation of that charge is necessary under this article unless it is demanded by the accused after he is informed of the charge. A demand for further investigation entitles the accused to recall witnesses for further cross-examination and to offer any new evidence in his own behalf.

A UCMJ-guided military justice system that’s good enough for us, but too good for “them.”

Turning again to Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s utterly damning narrative about the treatment and experiences of Fouad Al Rabiah in American military custody, after the Americans received him from an Afghan warlord – a road map by the judge describing apparently-despotic American wrongdoing, even with redactions throughout its length that cover up the most-damning details of names, dates and specifics – this is what our Congress has been, and still is, countenancing in our names, and is now quietly, but vehemently, refusing to publicly investigate:

[Al Rabiah] maintained his confessions over time because “the interrogators would continue to abuse me anytime I attempted to repudiate any of these false allegations.” Ex. 175, Paragraph 13.

[…]

The record also supports Al Rabiah’s claims that he was punished for recanting.

[…]

These threats were also reinforced by placing Al Rabiah into the frequent flier program, an interrogation “technique” that, as already noted, violated the Army Field Manual and the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

[…]

As explained in the Army Field Manual, these “prohibited techniques [are] not necessary to gain the cooperation of interrogation sources.” Ex. 101 at 1-8 (FM 34-52 Army Field Manual). In fact, the use of these methods is likely to “yield[] unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say what he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.” Id. (emphasis added).

[..]

In combination with this experience, there is substantial evidence in the record that Al Rabiah was led to believe that he needed to confess something in order to be eligible to be returned to Kuwait.

[…]

Significantly, the interrogators never believed these confessions, observing that they contained “inconsistencies” and “vast holes,” and expressly concluding that Al Rabiah was creating a “tale” to “please interrogators.” Ultimately, his interrogators grew increasingly frustrated with the inconsistencies and implausibilities associated with his confessions and began threatening him with rendition and torture, and decided to place him in the frequent flier program. These tactics violated both the Army Field Manual and the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, but they did not produce any additional confessions.

It is long past time for America’s federal legislators to start behaving like Americans, to catch up with the decent people of this nation, including, thankfully, some small number of their own colleagues, such as Rep. Jose Serrano of New York, also speaking on the House floor October 1, 2009:

On every appropriations bill that we see come before the full committee, there was this notion that we couldn’t bring folks from Guantanamo here to be prosecuted. Now, I know how dangerous some of these folks may be. I know how dangerous some of these folks are. I was in New York in my city on September 11. […]

I was there. I saw the pain. I know that they killed a lot of people, but they didn’t defeat us. Let’s be clear about that. They killed a lot of Americans, but they didn’t defeat us, and they will never defeat us unless we begin to run away from who we are as a people and as a Nation. Unless we begin to throw away and turn our back on the Constitution, on what makes us a unique country, then they have a chance to win.

[…] Why would we want to bring them here? Because we are the United States of America. Because we are a great democracy that is not afraid to bring people to justice when they deserve to come to justice. Because we [should…] have nothing to hide.

[…] Why not let the world know in the middle of our pain, in the midst of all of our anguish over September 11, we are big enough and democratic enough to bring people to trial here within our territory.

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