The big story Monday, that "Obama's Gitmo Task Force Blows its Deadline," was exclusively explained and updated by Michael Isikoff at Newsweek. A White House briefing by anonymous officials, as to why there was a delay, gave reasons revolving around an inability to reach consensus on a number of key sticking points. The issues regard indefinite detention and what to do with new prisoners. Tuesday Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com wrote that first steps have already been taken to implement preventive detention and military commissions, briefed in an interim report. To quote:
Though the Task Force's final recommendations were delayed, it did release an interim report (.pdf) which -- true to Obama's prior pledges -- envisions an optional, three-tiered "system of justice" for imprisoning accused Terrorists, to be determined by the Obama administration in each case: (1) real trials in real courts for some; (2) military commissions for others; and (3) indefinite detention with no charges for the rest. This memo is the first step towards institutionalizing both a new scheme of preventive detention and Obama's version of military commissions.
Another big Monday story was headlined,"Pentagon Seeks Prison Overhaul in Afghanistan," by Eric Schmitt of the New York Times. To summarize: "A U.S. military review calls for overhauling the troubled American-run prison at Bagram Air Base, which has become an ominous symbol for Afghans." Following up on the story, Daphne Eviatar at the Washington Independent adds that, "Human Rights First, which has done some of the most extensive work on the Bagram prison and the justice system in Afghanistan, is expected to release a new report on the problems there this week." In a follow up story cited in the Greenwald piece above, Eviatar talked at length about the material that came out in the anonymous White House briefing, noting that President Obama may seek the authority to indefinitely detain members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban first proposed a year ago by Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey. And Congress may or may not have anything to say about it. Many of the issues have already produced court rulings, many of which are on appeal by the current administration.
Last week the news was about the habeas corpus case of Mohammed Jawad. Daphne Eviatar of The Washington Independent has the story (7/16/09), stating that President Obama still has not announced his policy on evidence acquired through torture. However, the government did shift its position to say that it would not oppose the defense lawyers' arguments that the "confession" of Jawad when he was 12 years old was evidence that was coersed, unreliable and inadmissible. The next day the judge in the case suppressed the coerced confessions and refused to delay a hearing in the Jawad/Gitmo case, Eviatar continued the earlier story.
Last week's US House news regarded Congressional oversight of the CIA. Representative Rush Holt (D-N.J.) talked to Spencer Ackerman at The Washington Independent about a possible review that would be similar to the Church and Pike Commissions of the 1970s. Ackerman wondered whether there is any House interest in such a "way sensitive" CIA inquiry (7/16/09), asking himself whether this will happen. The very next day the House Intelligence Committee's Chairman Sylvestre Reyes (D-TX) announced that there would be an investigation of the CIA's "significant actions," recently shut down by Leon Panetta, possibly a planned assassination ring that was under the direction of Dick Cheney.
Over on the Senate side the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Diane Feinstein (D-Calif) and Kit Bond (R-Mo), announced that the committee has agreed on an authorization bill for 2010 intelligence funding. WI's Spencer Ackerman revealed a number of very significant provisions in the bill that entail beefing up congressional oversight. The article was published on 7/17/09.
Reference: The New America Foundation has a new report that puts the actual rate of Guantanamo recidivism at 4%. (HT to Spencer Ackerman 7/20/09).
[Post date - July 22, 2009]