The Most Transparent Administration Ever strikes again

There are many things wrong with Guantanamo, the most basic one being that it exists at all. It is a place where human rights, and humans too, go to die. People have been tortured there, rectally force-fed, and subjected to all manner of indignities and kept in prison without being brought to trial because the government has felt that it could not win a legal case against them.

Now comes yet another story of abuse, but with a new twist, in which president Obama’s “most transparent administration in history” resorts to unprecedented levels of secrecy in order to avoid releasing a prisoner who is close to death.

In an extremely rare legal manoeuvre, the Obama administration has challenged a legal request to free a hunger-striking Guantánamo Bay detainee entirely in secret.

US officials said the objection to freeing Tariq Ba Odah, who is undernourished to the point of starvation, and the decision to challenge his legal gambit outside of public view, are indications that the Obama administration will fight tenaciously to stop detainees from seeking freedom in federal courts, despite Barack Obama’s oft-repeated pledge to close Guantánamo.

Ba Odah, a 36-year-old Yemeni who has spent 13 years at Guantánamo, currently risks dying in the Guantánamo Bay facility where he has spent a third of his life. He weighs 74 pounds (34kg), the result of years of rejecting food and forced feeding through a tube inserted through his nose into his stomach.

The official indicated that the motive for sealing the motion was to shield the government from embarrassment, rather than protecting classified information.

National-security lawyers said they could not think of a case where the government had filed a sealed challenge to a habeas petition.

“That would be unique, in my experience,” said attorney Joshua Dratel, who has represented several accused terrorists and Guantánamo detainees.


  1. lorn says

    The right has a long history of using words like “freedom” as if they were complete arguments that laid out well though tout detailed plans on how to deal with complex issues. It has been made fun of with the phrase : “Because … freedom”.

    I get a whiff of that here.
    … ” stop detainees from seeking freedom” …

    Freedom where? What do you mean by freedom?

    Other nations don’t want him. Congress has blocked any chance that he might be released into the US. He is being used as a political tool to keep Obama from closing the Guantanamo detention center. You can’t close the center until the inmates have left so the laws are passed to systematically keep the inmates in a liminal status, neither fish nor fowl, neither in the US nor outside the US. The executive branch isn’t the Catholic church which can declare limbo nonexistent and let all the souls of unbaptized babies evaporate into a deeper nothingness than limbo.

    That is as long as you don’t want the administration to fall back on that authoritarian option of letting them “disappear”. Argentina used to do a lot of that.

    Weeeelll let’s see here. You’re telling me the guy was loaded onto a helicopter bound for Miami, but when they got to Miami he was nowhere to be found? Yep. You mean you lost the guy? No … we just don’t know where he is. Are we to assume he is dead? No … his body has not been found. Are we to assume he has escaped and is roaming around free? Possibly, but he might be still be detained, we can’t know for sure without evidence one way or another.

  2. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Other nations don’t want him. Congress has blocked any chance that he might be released into the US.

    It may be political suicide, but I would feel morally obliged to do this if I was the president: For all of the people in Guantanamo who have been cleared for release, I would issue a presidential pardon for any and all crimes in the past for which I have the authority to issue a pardon. (This kind of use of pardon power has been done before.) Problem solved.

    Then, use my personal jet to fly down to Guantanamo and pick up the inmates, and fly them back to the US. Release them. If it makes it legally better, also offer to be their sponsors, or even offer them employment. — Oh, of course, I would ask the prisoners if they want this outcome or if they want to stay there. I assume they all would want this outcome, but it can’t hurt to ask. Self determination and freedom and all.

  3. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Obama, the leader of the Most Transparent Administration Ever ™, and the president with the best record on civil rights court cases in 50 years? (sarcasm)

    No. Given the last 7~ years of Obama in office, I think it’s pretty clear that he never had that thought, and doesn’t give a fuck about protecting the rights of the people.

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