Detention

FARC Leader Convicted

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:56pm
I posted about this a while ago. A federal court convicted the Columbian FARC leader, Ricardo Palmera, two days ago for the abduction of three military contractors, held for years as de facto POWs in the Americo-Columbian campaign to interdict narcotics from the Coca-rich fields of that Latin American country. There are marked similarities between our efforts against FARC (and certainly the simmering civil conflict between FARC and the current government) and our fight against millennial (something like Aum Shinrikiyo), fundamentalist (uh, al Qaeda) or political (McVeigh) terrorism. That is, absent actual battlefield combat, we can and should use the established criminal justice system to bring justice to those who commit terrorist crimes against us. Palmera was convicted. Can we say the same about anyone down at Gitmo? Can we say the same about Jose Padilla? What about Hamdi, the enemy combatant captured in the Taliban campaign and held as a military detainee without charge or trial in South Carolina? He's free now in Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the only "guilty" Gitmo detainee---David Hicks---got nine months under a ridiculous, politically motivated plea deal. What's the takeaway? The criminal justice system is equipped to adjudge even highly sensitive national security cases. If it needs added security measures, let's do that. If it needs special federal procedure, let's do that. But military justice is a necessary evil of the fog of war. That fog never really existed in the case of USA v. al-Qaeda. Let's finally get the bad guys. And let's do it our way---legitimately.

Laird Redux

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:06am
I realize this is a little outside my bailiwick, but I wanted to mention one little historical footnote in relation to last week's decision in ACLU v. NSA. At the heart of Friday's decision dismissing the ACLU's suit against the NSA's warrantless wiretapping…

How Many Other Shoes Can Drop?

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:22am
The Post lede speaks for itself: As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. "There has not been one verified…

Clients vs. Acolytes

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:00pm
Rosa Brooks, law professor and LA Times columnist, nails it once again, ridiculing the media's incredulity at the recent Libby commutation, the Cheney power-grab reported in the Post and the rest of the "oh, wow" newfound fright at the Bush administration's…

Yes!

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:56am
Professor Witt at Columbia. The man.…

Judge Misleads Senators on Detainees?

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:46am
So sayeth Sens. Durbin, D-Il., and Leahy, D-Vt. From Mr. Lewis at the Times. Durbin's question came during Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing. I foresee more on this in the days to come. Mr. Durbin asked Judge Kavanaugh about his role in screening…

Changes At SOCOM?

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 8:34am
Profile on Adm. James Stavridis, head of the military's regional Southern Command, which includes Gitmo in its ambit. The story is more focused on his approach in Latin America, but it also makes this point: The smart power approach is more than just…

Morning Must Read

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 8:16am
Legislation to close Gitmo wouldn't necessarily fix the problem. From the principal director of the Pentagon Office of Detainee Affairs: While acknowledging that the Guantánamo detention center had tainted the nation’s reputation, he also…

Brownback Refuses to Reinstate Khadr Charges

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:30pm
From CNN: Last month, Brownback said new congressional rules on trying detainees specify that a detainee must be designated an "unlawful enemy combatant." Pentagon officials would not release Brownback's most recent decision, but said he ruled the…

Carrying the President's Water

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:20pm
Two partners at Baker Hostetler in DC critique the Al-Marri decision, which I wrote about at some length here. It's an interesting op-ed, one with which I disagree strongly, but there are a few key issues in the piece that need to be cleared up. First,…
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