As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Slow Wheels Of Justice At Guantanamo

Mohammed Jawad was captured by US forces when he was 12 years old, and under torture, he confessed to charges of terrorism. His initial arrest was for throwing a grenade at US soldiers in Afghanistan. These are two different incidents; the latter may or may not be a crime, but the former is just a pretense to label Jawad an enemy combatant and detain him indefinitely. The Obama Justice Department has admitted that it has no evidence to justify the continued holding of Jawad as an enemy combatant, and judges have repeatedly considered his confession inadmissable in court. Today, the Justice Department will relent on that point, but ask to delay Jawad's release until they determine whether they can bring federal charges against him.

Avoiding a showdown with a federal judge, the Obama administration agreed Wednesday to release from Guantanamo Bay an Afghan prisoner who was captured as a teenager and held nearly seven years for allegedly throwing a grenade at U.S. soldiers.

The government said it would "promptly release" Mohammed Jawad, now 23, and send him to Afghanistan -- but only after it sent a required notification to Congress explaining whether his release would pose a risk to national security. That will take 22 days, the administration said [...]

The case could have led to a constitutional showdown, because no judge has forced the release of a Guantanamo prisoner over the objections of the government.

But in Wednesday's order, the administration agreed to release Jawad after informing Congress. Lawmakers adopted an appropriations measure this year that requires the administration to provide "an assessment of any risk to the national security" before freeing a Guantanamo prisoner.

Jonathan Hafetz, an ACLU lawyer for Jawad, said he was "cautiously optimistic" that his client would be released soon.

I cannot see how the DoJ can justify keeping Jawad beyond those 22 days. He's spend 1/3 of his life in US custody. The grenade attack, not confirmed, occurred in the midst of a war zone. The Attorney General of Afghanistan is asking that he be returned home. We need to consider this time served and let him go.

This, by the way, is how the justice system should work - a detainee gets a habeas hearing to question his imprisonment, and the government can then either charge or release.

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