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29 April 2004

Court Hears Case on U.S. Detainees

The New York Times has an almost blow-by-blow account of the arguments before the US Supreme Court on the question of the legality of "indefinite detention". This case is about US citizens, rather than non-citizens such as those held at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Supremes heard that case last week, but decisions have not been handed down at this point. It is striking how disingenuous and cynical some of the government's arguments are in this case. For example, when asked by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor why a "neutral decision maker" could not have been used to screen detainees before they were committed to detention, government attorney Paul D. Clement said 'the potential detainees' initial screening, sorting those to be held from those who need not be, met that requirement. "For all intents and purposes, that is a neutral decision maker," he said.' Excuse me? Then Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked why the detainees were not given a forum to explain themselves, and Clement replied "The interrogation process itself provides an opportunity for an individual to explain that this has all been a mistake." (Note that in earlier cases the government's legal team saw no reason why torture in interrogation should not be permitted in certain cases. Hey it worked for centuries in the past - like the 12th through the 17th centuries. Why forsake a proven formula?) This government demonstrates over and over again that they hold most of the world and its institutions in contempt and clearly think they can and are entitled to get away with literally anything.

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