December 04, 2009

Offered with (Almost) No Comment


On January 29, 2008, the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel, the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the Washington College of Law, filed an Amended Complaint with the District Court for the District of Columbia against 24 named individual Defendants and the United States for their role in the arbitrary detention, torture and ultimate deaths of Yasser Al-Zahrani and Salah Al-Salami. The individual Defendants and the United States moved to dismiss the claims on June 26, 2009, and Plaintiffs filed their opposition on October 5, 2009. The Defendants’ reply is due December 4, 2009. The case is pending before Judge Ellen Huvelle of the D.C. District Court.


Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld, et al. is a civil action against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and 23 other senior officials and military officers for the abuse, arbitrary detention and wrongful deaths of Yasser Al-Zahrani of Saudi Arabia and Salah Al-Salami of Yemen, who died in U.S. custody at Guantánamo Bay on June 10, 2006.
From an email from the Center for Constitutional Rights that I received a short while ago:
This afternoon, the government filed reply papers in support of its motion to dismiss the case of Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld, arguing that no federal court has the power to hear cases seeking accountability for abuse of detainees at Guantánamo.

The Center for Constitutional Rights brought the suit against Donald Rumsfeld and 23 other federal officials on behalf of the families of Yasser Al-Zahrani and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed Al-Salami, two detained men found dead at the base in June 2006.

Among other claims, the government continues to advance arguments that:

** No federal court has jurisdiction to address the deceased’s claims of torture, wrongful detention and wrongful death, or any claims of abuse by any Guantánamo detainees;

** Detainees at Guantánamo are entitled to no constitutional protections beyond habeas corpus;

** While torture and indefinite incommunicado detention without charge may be illegal, U.S. officials who participated in such conduct vis-à-vis the deceased are still immune from any liability;

** None of the 24 named officials in the case, including Donald Rumsfeld and senior military commanders charged with responsibility over day-to-day operations in Guantánamo during the time of the deceased’s detention, bear any individual responsibility for the men’s arbitrary detention, abuse or ultimate deaths at Guantánamo; and

** Despite Supreme Court precedent establishing the United States’ effective sovereignty over the military base, that Guantánamo is still a “foreign country” thus barring the deceased’s tort claims against the government.
Put this development (which, I need hardly add, is now standard operating procedure for this administration, as it was for the previous one) together with Obama's speech earlier this week, and draw what conclusions you will.

My health precludes me from drinking alcohol, except on very rare occasions. I think I might have a drink this evening.

And I plan to swear. A lot. And then play with the cats and listen to opera.