In today's NY Times, there is an article by Richard Oppel about Capt. Kirk Black, a National Guard officer, U.S. Captain Hears Pleas for Afghan Detainee. Captain Black, a National Guard officer who is a member of Baltimore's SWAT team in civilian life, is in Afghanistan to help rain the local police force . Capt. Black appears to be heading for rather serious trouble. His offence? He doubted the oficial story that one of the prisoners at Bagram Air Base is who the US Government says he is.
The US Government maintains that a man by the name of Gul Khan is in fact someone named Qari Idris, a Taliban leader. Mr Khan's relatives feel differently. They contacted Capt. Black and asked him to look into Mr. Khan's situation. Capt. Black agreed to do so, correctly feeling that by helping to clear up a mistake that caused an innocent man to be held, he would be helping to as the old phrase goes, "win hearts and minds".
To make a long story short, Capt. Black did look into things and as it states in the article:
“Upon speaking to multiple village elders, family members, the police chief and the subgovernor, I am convinced that the individual in question is not the person that the government claims,” he wrote in January to Clive Stafford Smith, a human rights lawyer he had met three years earlier during a posting to Guantánamo. “I am a police officer in the United States, and there is a mass of evidence that this individual does not need to be held.”
Mr. Smith has taken Mr.Khan's case and is filing for a writ of habeus corpus in fderal court - a right that Mr. Obama thinks that Mr. Khan ought not to have.
Now, every cop that I've ever met starts off with a simple premise - that the suspect is guilty and deserves what he gets. They're not exactly a bunch of hand-wringing Lefty civil libertarians. That Capt. Black, a real-life cop, has actually been convinced that Mr. Khan is indeed a victim of mistaken identity is something I find very convincing. Capt. Black is no Johnny-come-lately to the GWoT, he's done a previous tour at Guantánamo Bayand in his own words:
“When I got there, I’ll admit I basically believed everyone there was a terrorist and we had every right to be holding them,” he said. “But as I learned more about the system, I learned that quite a few of them were just swept up in the initial invasion.”
Now it seems that the US Government (surpise!) doesn't like it's judgement questioned by a junior officer. Capt. Black was told to "toe the party line" and not discuss Mr. Khan's guilt or innocence. Additionally, Capt. Black has been placed under investigation and the investigators attempted to get a sworn statement from Mr. Oppel, the author of the Times' article, who declined to give one.
It seems that the US Goverment has decided that Mr. Khan, like all Bagram prisoners is, in the words of a goverment spokesman, classified as “an imminent danger to the lives of U.S. service members.” And once so classified, he has no rights. Not even the right to prove who he is.
This is what "indefinite detention" means. Not only are locked up and the key thrown away, but nobody hs the right to question the premise of your inprisonment. You are scooted off and stored away, not because of what you've done, but because of whatt he goverment fears that you might do. A government that doesn't like to be questioned.
This is wrong. When we were children, this is what we were told happened to those poor, oppressed people "behind the Iron Curtain" and was something that we would never do.
I guess we're nothing special after all.