Civil Liberties & Privacy

Judge Denies Habeas Petition of an Ill and Abused Libyan in Guantánamo

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On April 20, unnoticed by any media outlet whatsoever, a Libyan prisoner at Guantánamo, Omar Mohammed Khalifh (also identified as Omar Abu Bakr) lost his habeas corpus petition. I learned about the ruling through a “Guantánamo Habeas Scorecard” maintained by the Center for Constitutional Rights, but although Judge James Robertson’s unclassified opinion is not yet available, ... [click for more]

Immigration, Civil Liberties, and the Drug War

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Arizona’s horrid law empowering cops to demand that people show their “papers” when suspected of being in the country without government permission holds an important lesson for both so-called progressives and conservatives. It’s a lesson about a seemingly separate issue: drugs. Concern about illegal immigrants along the Mexican border would undoubtedly diminish if the “war on drugs” ended. (It’s not ... [click for more]

Prosecuting a Tortured Child: Obama’s Guantánamo Legacy

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Since coming to power 15 months ago, promising to close Guantánamo within a year, and suspending the much-criticized military commission trial system for terror suspects, President Obama’s zeal for repudiating the Bush administration’s “war on terror” detention policies has ground to a halt. The rot set in almost immediately, when the new administration invoked ... [click for more]

Why Judges Can’t Free Torture Victims from Guantánamo

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Last December, I wrote about the case of Saeed Hatim, a Yemeni in Guantánamo whose habeas corpus petition had been granted by Judge Ricardo Urbina. At the time, Judge Urbina’s unclassified opinion had not been made publicly available, so all I had to go on were Hatim’s own statements at Guantánamo. In publicly available documents, he told ... [click for more]

The Slippery Definition of Extremism

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Americans are once again hearing of the perils of extremism. But the definition of this offense is slippier than a politician’s campaign promise. The definition of extremism has continually been amended to permit government policies that few sober people previously advocated. Prior to 2000, anyone who asserted that the Census Bureau was deeply involved with the roundup of Japanese-Americans for ... [click for more]

Abu Zubaydah: Tortured for Nothing

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The story of Abu Zubaydah a Saudi-born Palestinian whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn has always been absolutely central to the war on terror. Seized in a house raid in Faisalabad, Pakistan, on March 28, 2002, he was immediately touted as al-Qaeda's chief of operations and top recruiter, who would be ... [click for more]

Will Obama Sell Out on Terrorist Trials?

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In the dark farce that is the Obama administrations counter-terrorism policy, decisions are now, it seems, being made by whoever makes the most noise, regardless of whether what they are shouting for actually makes sense. Since last November, when Attorney General Eric Holder first announced that five men including ... [click for more]

Guantánamo Uighers Back in Legal Limbo

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Last Monday, the Supreme Court declined to review a case brought on behalf of seven men in Guantánamo whose release into the United States ordered by a U.S. judge 17 months ago. The men in question are Uighurs, Muslims from Chinas Xinjiang province, and the ruling ordering them to be re-housed in the United States was made in ... [click for more]

The Folly of Blindly Trusting the Government

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Democracy breeds gullibility. Lord Bryce observed in 1921, “State action became less distrusted the more the State itself was seen to be passing under popular control.” The rise of democracy made it much easier for politicians to convince people that government posed no threat, because they automatically controlled its actions. The result is that the brakes on government power ... [click for more]

The Feds’ Post–9/11 Airport-Worker Purge

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In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the federal government feared that people would lose faith in the government’s promise to protect them. The feds had dismally failed to stop the 19 hijackers who took down four planes and sowed panic from coast to coast. So the government did what it does best: Round up the usual suspects. Starting in ... [click for more]
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