March 28, 2007
Even as we await proceedings that will likely determine the particulars of David Hicks's return to Australia, we received the dismal news on Monday night that the United States had transferred a new detainee to Guantanamo
. He is, the Pentagon maintains, a "dangerous terror suspect" named Abdul Malik who allegedly tried to shoot down an Israeli airliner and "admitted" involvement in a suicide bombing in Kenya that killed 13 people in 2002.
All of this may or may not be true, but by bringing Mr. Malik to Guantanamo, the United States has virtually ensured that the world will always doubt such claims. Amid high-level Administration debates about the future of Guantanamo
, and growing world condemnation of U.S. detention policies, what possible reason could there be for transporting another detainee here? It's difficult to conclude anything except that the United States lacks the evidence to prosecute Mr. Malik in a U.S. court – or that it has subjected him to treatment that it hopes to keep secret.
In the best of circumstances, it will take many years and much hard work for the United States to restore its credibility as a nation committed to human rights and the rule of law. Each time a detainee is transferred into this legal limbo, we take a huge step backward, and that task becomes all the more difficult.