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Torturing Legality

What a surprise. Dubya had his fingers crossed when he said his administration was looking at ways to shut down Gitmo. Despite his stated desire to

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What a surprise. Dubya had his fingers crossed when he said his administration was looking at ways to shut down Gitmo.

Despite his stated desire to close the American prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, President Bush has decided not to do so, and never considered proposals drafted in the State Department and the Pentagon that outlined options for transferring the detainees elsewhere, according to senior administration officials.

Mr. Bush’s top advisers held a series of meetings at the White House this summer after a Supreme Court ruling in June cast doubt on the future of the American detention center. But Mr. Bush adopted the view of his most hawkish advisers that closing Guantánamo would involve too many legal and political risks to be acceptable, now or any time soon, the officials said.

Spencer Ackerman:

The “legal risks” are called “due process of law” and “adherence to universally-embraced standards of civilization.”

The place rightwingers profess to believe is some kind of "holiday camp" is still full of innocents who were tortured into confessions, too.

Like 17 Uighurs a federal court had ordered released, who now won't go free.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stayed a federal judge's order releasing the men, and it ordered oral arguments in the government's appeal, to be heard Nov. 24.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ordered the government Oct. 7 to release the men, all Uighurs, who have been held at Guantanamo Bay for nearly seven years. The same panel temporarily stayed Urbina's order a day later.

The government has been trying to find new homes for the Uighurs for years. It no longer considers them enemy combatants and provided no evidence in court that they posed a security risk. The men cannot be returned to their homeland because they face the prospect of being tortured and killed. China considers the men terrorists.

Judges A. Raymond Randolph and Karen L. Henderson sided with the government and issued the order without comment; Judge Judith W. Rogers dissented, writing that the Bush administration's legal theories were flawed. The government has argued it can detain the Uighurs without cause until it locates a new home for them.

Justice Department lawyers have argued that only the president or Congress has the legal authority to order the Uighurs' release into the United States.

And if Congress ordered their release, Dubya's henchmen would doubtless refuse on the grounds of his Supreme Executive Authoritay.

The Uighurs aren't the only ones held purely because they are evidence of Bush administration war crimes.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday it dropped war-crimes charges against five Guantanamo Bay detainees after the former prosecutor for all cases complained that the military was withholding evidence helpful to the defense.

America's first war-crimes trials since the close of World War II have come under persistent criticism, including from officers appointed to prosecute the alleged terrorists. The military's unprecedented move was directly related to accusations brought by the very man who was to bring all five prisoners to justice.

Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld had been appointed the prosecutor for all five cases, but at a pretrial hearing for a sixth detainee earlier this month, he openly criticized the war-crimes trials as unfair. Vandeveld said the military was withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense, and was doing so in other cases.

The chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay has now appointed new trial teams for the five cases to review all available evidence, coordinate with intelligence agencies and recommend what to do next, a military spokesman, Joseph DellaVedova, said in an e-mail.

DellaVedova said the military might renew the charges against the five later.

Clive Stafford Smith, a civilian attorney representing detainee Binyam Mohamed, said he has already been notified that charges against his client would be reinstated.

The Independent has more on the "farce" the Bush administration are passing of as due process:

Mohamed, 30, who lived in west London, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and transferred to Guantanamo in 2004. He was accused of planning an attack that included the use of radioactive material and chemical weapons.

But Mohamed insists he admitted to plotting the dirty bomb attack only after being tortured, which included having his penis cut with a razor. Mr Stafford Smith said: "The Bush Administration will not even admit in public that they rendered Mr Mohamed to face torture in Morocco, let alone allow him a fair trial. Meanwhile he sits in solitary confinement in Guantanamo, in total despair, contemplating whether he should just commit suicide."

Reprieve, which has long campaigned for the case against Mohamed to be dropped, says he should be returned to the UK. They say he is a victim of "extraordinary rendition" and torture. The charity says Mohamed was sent to Morocco by the CIA in July 2002, where he was tortured for 18 months before being rendered to a secret prison in Afghanistan.

Mohamed has been fighting a long, high-profile legal battle in both the American and English courts for access to 42 documents. Lawyers for the Muslim convert believe the secret papers may contain information backing his claim that he only confessed to terrorist activities after being held incommunicado for two years and suffering ill-treatment. The US government has been accused of using a strategy of delay to avoid having to disclose the evidence that could support the torture allegations.

So keen were the administration to prevent Mohammed's papers coming to light that they threatened the UK government with an intelligence-sharing embargo if it let a UK court rule in Mohammed's favor.

I continue to believe that, if President Obama thinks war crimes trails in America would be too devisive, all he has to do is step aside when The Hague comes calling with warrants for Bush and the rest and use the their own line: "if they've done nothing wrong then they have nothing to fear". With a smile.

But I will say one thing - if he does nothing at all, a lot of people who have backed him will remove their support.

Crossposted from Newshoggers

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