Friday, June 13, 2008
One Big Yawn
That’s how one former Guantanamo Bay detainee reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Thursday that terror suspects held at the U.S. military base have the right to challenge the legality of their detention in American civilian courts.
Moazzam Begg was released from Guantanamo in January 2005. He was never charged with a crime. But Begg said that for most the 270 detainees still being held at Guantanamo, this ruling will mean absolutely nothing.
“This might be some kind of landmark victory but nobody has ever been released from Guantanamo because of a legal decision,” notes Begg.
Begg’s view is that American justice is an oxymoron and the detainees know even a U.S. Supreme court decision will mean very little to their future.
But the human rights organization Reprieve, which has been working for years for the release of detainees, says the ruling is a sweeping victory.
“It means the detainees will have their day in court,” says Cori Crider, a lawyer with Reprieve. “The detainees will be able to demand the U.S. government either charge them with a crime, or set them free,” she adds.
But even as Reprieve admits, a judicial ruling, even of this stature, will not necessarily lead to due process for all the detainees.
As Begg will tell you, the detainees, the lawyers who try to defend them, even some high ranking U.S. officials, have abandoned the idea that any judicial ruling will change the immediate fate of those still being held at Guantanamo without charge.
As Begg soberly added, “As Malcolm X once said, you can wedge a knife 6 inches into someone’s back, pull it back 5 inches and call it progress, it’s not progress,” says Begg.
By Paula Newton, International Security Correspondent
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