First sentence from the report Off the Record:

On September 6, 2006, President George W. Bush revealed that the U.S. runs a secret system of detention in the “War on Terror”, but he did not disclose how many individuals were secretly detained. 

Today in FPA War Crimes blog, Daniel Graeber features this report on “ghost detainees” put together by six different human rights groups on the status of detention and hidden rendition.  He also has a link to the report itself, which I will duplicate here.  This particular report, after a mountain of effort, was able to track and verify 39 of these detainees, all of whom remain missing.  The report’s compilers were able to double-verify twenty-one of these “ghosts” in the U.S. secret prison system.

This sets aside our common ideals of the rule of law, and our commonly-held notions of U.S. domestic jurisprudence.  It taints our relations with other countries abroad–where we frequently push for rule of law reform.

Coercion of children:
The coercion of family members is detailed starting on page 19 of the report.   In September 2002, two sons of the terrorist suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, aged 7 years old and a nine years old, were detained for four months and coerced into telling their father’s whereabouts.  There are other stories there, and plenty of footnotes in this report for you to check out. 

It’s difficult to describe the betrayal I perceive in this post-9-11 Mr. Bush administration’s systematic violation of rule-of-law and human rights.   On the one hand, what outrage and heart-burnings we suffer as we watch, horrified, are nothing compared to what others are suffering in our name.  For myself, I find that my outrage is settling somewhere in the set of my spine; it is making my voice lower in pitch:  I find myself mouthing platitudes that don’t properly indicate my absolute determination that this policy be changed.  I say out loud: This may be a way to win a battle, but it is not a way to win a war.  It is not a way to build cooperation.  I say: It is not what I was taught that my country stood for.

We have been encouraged to think otherwise, lately: that these lapses in due process are justified and good for America.  These things done in our country’s name violate our collective national integrity.  Individual integrity is what is left.  Each of us who find ourselves smirched by this policy have to speak up and speak out to end these practices.  In so doing, we will build a new collective integrity–pretty much that’s what’s left for us to do–and we need to do it.

Write your Congressional representative and your Senators

Further fast reading:
The Economist: “Another fine mess” on the trials and soon-appeals to trial for Salim Hamdan and Omar Khadr; “Self-defeating” by a defense lawyer for 35 Guantanamo detainees; and “A Swiftian tale” by a former detainee
All of the FPA War Crimes blog, for Hicks, Hamdan, Khadr, and others, because  Dan covers it better than anybody.

Further study:
U.S. Detainee Treatment Act of 2005:
Department of Defense Portal Page for Guantanamo
Denbeaux & Denbeaux, The Guantanomo detainees: The government’s story, Seton Hill University School of Law, 28 pages, pdf.

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