May 4, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Obaidullah, an Afghan villager captured with diagrams of improvised bombs, has marked nearly 11 years as a detainee at the U.S. naval base on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Three months ago, outraged by what he called another prison "shakedown," he joined a hunger strike there, and now is locked in solitary confinement with at least 100 fellow detainees. "I have seen men who are on the verge of death being taken away to be force-fed," Obaidullah said in a federal court affidavit declassified Friday.
May 4, 2013 |
President Obama sounded genuinely outraged last week when he talked about the Kafkaesque situation at the Guantanamo prison camp, where the United States has been holding 166 men without trial for terms that are, at this point, officially endless. "It's not sustainable," the president thundered. "I mean, the notion that we're going to continue to keep over 100 individuals in a no man's land in perpetuity?" But at least some of Obama's anger should be directed at himself, because his own silence and passivity on Guantanamo are part of the problem.
April 25, 2013 |
On Monday, the Obama administration announced a new policy to provide legal help to mentally disabled immigrants awaiting deportation trials in federal detention centers. A day later, a federal judge in Los Angeles reached the same conclusion, ruling that the Department of Homeland Security is required to provide free legal assistance to immigrants in detention if they are not capable of representing themselves because of mental illness. Both decisions are welcome and could help bring more fairness to the system.
April 19, 2013 |
The federal government has the authority to detain and deport immigrants who violate the law. But it also has the responsibility to ensure that those it holds while they fight their deportation cases aren't locked up for months, or years, without an opportunity to appear before an immigration judge who can determine whether their prolonged detention is warranted. This week the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Obama administration's obligation to provide such hearings to immigrants detained for more than six months, at least in Southern California.
April 16, 2013
NEW YORK - An independent review of the U.S. government's anti-terrorism response after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks found that it was "indisputable" the U.S. engaged in torture and the George W. Bush administration bore responsibility. The report released Tuesday by the Constitution Project, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, is an ambitious review of the Bush administration's approach to the problems of holding and interrogating detainees after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
March 28, 2013 |
Solitary confinement in immigration detention centers across the nation is often overused and arbitrarily applied. According to data obtained by the National Immigrant Justice Center, as many as 300 immigrants, or about 1% of all detainees in the 50 largest facilities in the country, are confined to small cells on any given day, even though many pose no security risk. In many cases, they're held there for 23 hours each day without a break, often for weeks. The use of solitary confinement is troubling enough in regular state and federal prisons, where inmates held in such conditions for prolonged periods are at risk for severe mental illness and suicide, according to medical experts.