Miranjihad rights

The Department of Justice has decided that the first words spoken to a suspected Taliban terrorist, say one captured in Afghanistan in the aftermath of a beheading with a bloody scimitar in his hand, should be these:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.

TOC first suggested this prospect here in June, 2006. Then, I was imagining how Ramsey Clark would present the case for Abu al-Zarqawi had he been captured rather than immolated.

In January, 2009 I said this:

We all do hope President Obama is successful in his resolution of the problems represented by terrorists captured on the battlefield; problems compounded by his rush to accomodate those suffering residual Bush Derangement Syndrome. [Re: Gitmo] We also hope he is resolute in preventing any remaining Al-Shihri’s from being freed because they weren’t read their Miranda rights.

I wish I had been wrong, but we can now at least put one face on Janet Napolitano’s euphemism “man-caused disaster” – that of AG Eric H. Holder.

Related: TOC commented on SCOTUS’ Boumediene decision, in June 2008 – here and here.

Edited 5:28PM 13-Jun

Give me that old time rendition

Greg Miller in The Baltimore Sun: Rendition might expand in anti-terrorism efforts

The CIA‘s secret prisons are being closed. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being just a naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these discredited [?] programs, President Barack Obama left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.

Under executive orders issued by Obama on Jan. 22, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as “renditions,” or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program is poised to play an expanded role because it is the main remaining mechanism – aside from Predator missile strikes – for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

…the Obama administration appears to have decided that the rendition program is one component of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that it cannot afford to discard.

…”Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place” for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. “What I heard loud and clear from the president’s order was that they want to design a system that doesn’t result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured, but that designing that system is going to take some time.”

…”The reason we did interrogations [ourselves] is because renditions for the most part weren’t very productive,” said a former senior CIA official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

The most valuable intelligence on al-Qaida came from prisoners who were in CIA custody and questioned by agency experts, the official said. Once prisoners were turned over to other countries, such as Egypt or Jordan, the agency had limited ability to influence how much intelligence was shared, how prisoners were treated, and whether they were later released.

The most valuable intelligence came from prisoners in CIA custody? Like those interrogated at Guantánamo? The argument I’ve heard is that waterboarding wasn’t effective because those subjected to it would say anything. Go figure how that changed in favor of interrogation by Egyptians or Afghanis, at least during the time Obama’s figuring out how to write the executive order making them use the US Army Field Manual. Maybe they get to use the field manual of their own Armies.

Maybe rendition is considered “good” because it was made policy on Bill Clinton’s watch when Leon Panetta was his Chief of Staff. I did understand that Leon would be putting an end to this rendition thing now that he’s DCIA, but apparently I was mistaken. Despite my skepticism, maybe he has got some relevant experience after all.

How long will it be, though, before DemocratUnderground, MoveOn and The Daily Kos start calling Obama “ObaMaoHitler?” (For myself, I’d leave the “Hitler” off, but we know these guys really like it because they mistakenly think he was right-wing.)

I say unto them, be calm. It’s OK. The “right people” are in charge now. It’s a limited, secret plan. Human Rights Watch approves. Nothing will show up on the front page of the New York Times to upset the EU or give away clandestine ops to the enemy. If you want Barack to be successful, you mustn’t let this upset you.

Besides, the ACLU says sending the Gitmo prisoners to maximum security prisons on US soil is torture anyway. Compared to how they’ve been treated at Gitmo, I’d tend to agree.

Without Gitmo, I guess it’s either Egyptian dungeons or 72 virgins.

Another "rehabilitated" detainee

So, can we use this as evidence if we catch these guys again?

Two men released from the US “war on terror” prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have appeared in a video posted on a jihadist website, the SITE monitoring service reported.

…”By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for,” al-Shihri was quoted as saying.

Al-Shiri was transferred from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia in 2007, the US counter-terrorism official said.

Or, will they avoid trial because we won’t be able to find a jury untainted by the publicity they just generated?

If we catch them we should just quietly turn them over to the Iraqis, assuming Obama doesn’t define that as extraordinary rendition.

Now what?

Our new President has moved to fulfill one of his campaign promises: Getting the prisoners, no few of them hard-core terrorists, out of our detention center at Guantánamo. This he did in the absence of any plan as to where the displaced guests might be transferred, as if their Guantánamo location was in and of itself the problem. We have no word, either, on what might be done with any newly captured enemy combatants after they have been requested to give their name, rank and serial number according to the rules of the Army Field Manual. I suspect this is not actually good news for any of them, since the obvious choice is to turn them over to such authorities as may be readily at hand in the country where they are captured.

Since the President has had a lot of time to ponder the Executive Order’s justification, content and timing, and is revered for his judgment above just about everything except his rhetorical flourishes and buff pectorals, announcing this decision without knowing how to implement it seems more base pleasing expedience than part of a plan designed to maintain national security, “restore US dignity,” “return to Constitutional principles” (which, in any case do not apply) or make other countries like us again. Furthermore, the President is well aware, even if his most avid supporters claim not to be, that George Bush wanted to close the Gitmo detention center, but was variously stymied by Congress, our own justice system, and the refusal (or deadly intent) of other countries to accept those detainees who already qualify for release. Bush was rightly wary of bringing terrorists into the US criminal justice system.

Gitmo’s detainees probably will be “released,” in some sense, on Obama’s timetable. Whether this will prove to have been a good idea is an open question. Take two examples from recent headlines:

Freed by the U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief


BEIRUT, Lebanon — The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official.

Al-Shihri is one of more than 60 persons (of a total of over 500) already released from Gitmo who have returned to trying to kill Americans. Those people were released on the presumption, by the military, that they did not pose further threat. This proves, if anything, that our military justice system has applied high standards to justify continued incarceration. They erred on the side of presumed innocence far too often for this to be otherwise.

Sleeper Agent

What will Obama do with the only enemy combatant held on U.S. soil?
by Thomas Joscelyn

AS ONE OF HIS FIRST acts as president, Barack Obama ordered his new cabinet to review the case of Ali Saleh Khalah al Marri, the only “enemy combatant” held in the continental United States. On Thursday, January 22, President Obama ordered his executive branch to undertake “a prompt and thorough review of the factual and legal basis for al Marri’s continued detention, and identify and thoroughly evaluate alternative dispositions.”

Al Marri’s case has long been a source of controversy. Human rights groups and critics of the Bush administration charge that he is held illegally, and that he should be prosecuted in a federal court. The Bush administration countered that al Marri was a plotting al Qaeda operative who could be held indefinitely until the end of the “war on terror.” Al Marri’s status has been repeatedly challenged in the U.S. courts, with the critics winning some rounds and the Bush administration others. Obama’s order means that his cabinet members and their attending departments will now have to determine what, if anything, to do with al Marri, who is currently being held at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina.

Beyond the legal wrangling, however, there are some important angles to al Marri’s story that Obama’s cabinet should explore. First, and foremost, al Marri’s case underscores the gravity of the terrorist threat, including the depth of deception al Qaeda employs in its attempts to kill Americans. Second, al Marri’s story sheds light on how the Bush administration utilized “enhanced” interrogation techniques to uncover the details of al Qaeda’s plotting.

It is reasonable for a new president to review a long standing and sensitive case like Al Marri’s before making any decisions about the continuing disposition of it. Especially where it represents an area of major disagreement with the outgoing administration, sober second thoughts must apply. However, since it precisely illustrates one of the well-known potential problems of moving detainees out of Gitmo – what happens when enemy combatants are brought to US soil – one might expect the results of the review to inform any decision about moving them rather than, as seems likely now, the other way around. If Obama already had a solution for this problem, his embarrassing question to his White House counsel about what exactly his own executive order contained could have been avoided:

By Michael P. Tremoglie, The Bulletin

…The Obama administration is unsure of much of the details of their own policies regarding the capture, interrogation and imprisonment of terrorist suspects.

During the signing ceremony, Mr. Obama was unsure of what was specifically contained in his own Executive Order. He had to ask White House Counsel Greg Craig if there would be a separate order for disposing of the inmates.

We all do hope President Obama is successful in his resolution of the problems represented by terrorists captured on the battlefield; problems compounded by his rush to accomodate those suffering residual Bush Derangement Syndrome. We also hope he is resolute in preventing any remaining Al-Shihri’s from being freed because they weren’t read their Miranda rights.

Mohammed al-Kahtani

In August 2001, Mohammed al-Kahtani flew from Dubai to Orlando, Florida. On the same day Mohammed Atta drove to the Orlando International Airport. Atta is alleged to have intended to pick up al-Kahtani, but al-Kahtani was otherwise occupied. Immigration officials had already arrested him for stupidity: He had little money, did not speak English, and had arrived via a one-way ticket. His stories about his visit were inconsistent. Kahtani was deported to Dubai. From there he made his way to Afghanistan and was arrested again after 9/11. He became captive 625 at Guantanamo Bay.

Susan Crawford, the person in charge of determining whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial, refused to refer the case for prosecution. In doing so, she did say this about him:

“There’s no doubt in my mind he would’ve been on one of those planes had he gained access to the country in August 2001,” Crawford said of Qahtani, who remains detained at Guantanamo. “He’s a muscle hijacker. . . . He’s a very dangerous man. What do you do with him now if you don’t charge him and try him? I would be hesitant to say, ‘Let him go.'”

I don’t get it. She’s just kicked it to Obama to figure out how to sentence this guy to life-detainment? He’s having enough trouble figuring out how to keep his promise to close Gitmo.

Two observations on Crawford’s decision:

Rachel Lucas
So were they pulling out his fingernails while calling his mother a whore?

Paul Mirengoff
Was it or wasn’t it; and does it matter?

Worth reading both in full.