Monday, January 19, 2009

Last day for the house of cards

And hopefully after tomorrow, it all comes tumbling down. So what immediate challenges are left on the docket down there in the first-rate facility in the "tropics" as Cheney infamously referred to the American gulag and historical blight....

245 remain in custody. As this NY Times report today points out, 24 have been declared to have been improperly held in the last few months: "Rulings of Wrongful Detentions at Guantanamo." Why the sudden flow of judgments? "Since a Supreme Court decision in June gave detainees the right to have their detentions reviewed by federal judges in habeas cases, the government has won only three of them." It's quite the record for the U.S. government since June, 3 wins, 23 losses, underscoring in the dying days of this institution how unsubstantiated the charges have been.      

Professor Amir Attaran makes the case for the Harper government to offer to take some of the 50-60 Guantanamo detainees that are still being held yet have been approved for release as they have been assessed to pose no threat.  While there are nations that have stepped up to assist the U.S., Portugal having been one of the first, along with Britain and Germany, Canada under Stephen Harper is not likely to be one of them.  Given his intransigence on the Khadr case, and his instructions to minions to repeat verbatim the same obtuse response for the last few years, it would be shocking if he were to do such a favour to the Obama administration. Politically though, as Attaran suggests, the payoff could be huge in the form of a returned favour down the road.  Maybe that's the angle to work with Harper.  Maybe he would indeed do the right thing if there was something in it for him to politically club his enemies with.  

Meanwhile, on the last day of Bush rule at the base, Omar Khadr and a handful of other detainees face arraignment today, again, in what Khadr's lawyer calls one last "big mess and chaos."  Yep, despite both defence and prosecution counsel being in surprising agreement that it would not be in the "interests of justice" to permit this Bush administration manoeuver to obtain guilty pleas from 9/11 conspirators the day before Obama is sworn in, the court will be in session at Gitmo.  Of course it will.  
Journalists, witnesses, court staff and five relatives of 9/11 victims were flown from Washington Saturday night.
One last desperate stage-managed stab for the Bush administration. How fitting.