Watching the Shadows
We have noted the confusion over whether the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allows for the indefinite detention of persons apprehended on US soil. Now it appears that an effort by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to clarify the question in the upcoming 2013 NDAA is so poorly worded that it unintentionally (?) makes matters worse. Feinstein's proposed amendment (online as a PDF at the Lawfare blog) states that:
An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen of lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.
A joint statement by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, Bill of Rights Defense Committee and other groups (online as a PDF at the ACLU website) protests:
Israel's ultra-right Arutz Sheva this week is virtually alone in having noted a commentary by "columnist" Gordon Duff in Iran's semi-official Press TV Oct. 29 positing that Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette—sacked from his command of a Pacific carrier battle group to face an investigation into "inappropriate leadership judgment"—was planning a military "mutiny" to "topple Obama" in the event of his re-election. Duff asserts that all US military bases at home and abroad were placed on a state of alert in response to the threat. Writes Duff:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called on US President Barack Obama early on the morning after his re-election Nov. 7 to shut down the Guantánamo Bay military prison, even as it congratulated him on his victory. Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, urged Obama to "make good the promise he made four years ago to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay." He also encouraged Obama to put an end to practices such as warrantless surveillance, drone strikes and indefinite detention:
Guantánamo Bay detainee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri on Oct. 23 boycotted his pretrial hearing at the facility. Al-Nashiri is accused of bombing the USS Cole while it was in port in Yemen in October 2000. Al-Nashiri objected to the use of belly chains while he was brought from his cell to the courtroom for the proceedings. Navy officials have stated that while belly chains are used when moving certain detainees within the facility, they would not have been used on al-Nashiri before this week's hearing. The hearing was to determine if Yemen was at war with the US at the time of the bombing, a decision that will be used to determine al-Nashiri's status as an enemy combatant.
The High Court of England and Wales on Oct. 5 approved the extradition of five terror suspects to the US. The court's decision comes a week after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave its final approval of the extradition, which it had initially approved in April. Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other suspects appealed that ruling in July, but the ECHR declined to revisit their arguments. In its decision, the court criticized the extensive time spent litigating the extradition. In addition to al-Masri, British citizens Syed Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad and Saudi-born Khaled Al-Fawwaz are now slated to be extradited. All five men are wanted in the US on terrorism charges and will face imprisonment without parole at ADX Florence, a super-maximum security prison in Colorado. It has not been announced when the group will be extradited nor when they will be tried in the US.
Canadian citizen Omar Khadr was transferred to Canada from Guantánamo Bay early Sept. 30 to serve out the rest of his prison sentence under the authority of the Correctional Service of Canada. Khadr pleaded guilty to murdering US Sergeant First Class Christoper Speer, an Army medic, as well as charges of conspiracy and spying, material support of a terrorist group and attempted murder. He was originally sentenced to eight years in 2010 on top of the eight years he had already spent in prison. The rest of his sentence and future parole hearings, however, will now be handled by Canadian authorities according to Canadian law.
The Italian Court of Cassation on Sept. 19 upheld the convictions of 23 former CIA officers for the 2003 kidnapping and rendition of Egyptian terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. Former Milan CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady was originally sentenced to eight years in prison, while 22 other Americans were sentenced to five years after they were all tried in absentia. In 2010 an Italian intermediate appellate court increased Lady's sentence to nine years while increasing the sentences of the other 22 defendants to seven years. The Court of Cassation upheld the sentences of nine and seven years.
Yemeni Guantánamo Bay detainee Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif died over the weekend at a hospital on the US Navy base after guards found him unconscious in his cell Sept. 8. Latif's identification was originally withheld until the US military could notify his family and his home country's government. The guards who found Latif unconscious in his cell at the US detention facility performed first aid and brought him to a hospital on the US Navy base to perform extensive life saving measures. These were unsuccessful, and doctors at the hospital pronounced Latif dead. This marks the ninth detainee to have died in custody at Guantánamo.