Civil Liberties Crime and Punishment

2000 Days and the Perversion of American Ideals


Today the Surpreme Court will decide whether of not to hear the case of Ali Marri,
who has spent nearly 2,000 days locked up a Navy brig in South Carolina, without charges or a trial .

He is locked up solely because George W. Bush has designated him an enemy combatant.

According to the Bush administration’s interpretation of its powers, Mr. Marri could be held in this state of imprisoned limbo for the rest of his life, with no legal recourse whatsoever—-even though he was a legal resident at the time of his arrest and has been tried and convicted of exactly nothing.

Mari’s attorney, Jonathan Hafetz, has written a very troubling Op Ed about his client’s situation for today’s Los Angeles Times. Here are some excerpts:

Ali Marri is now 43 years old. He came to the United States in September 2001 with his wife and five children to study for a master’s degree at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill.

Three months later, two FBI agents came to Marri’s home in Peoria and arrested him. They believed he had information that could aid the government’s investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks and detained him as a “material witness.” Two months later, the government filed the first of three indictments against him, claiming that Marri had engaged in credit card fraud and lied to the FBI.

Marri maintained his innocence and prepared to contest the accusations against him. The district judge scheduled a trial date for July 2003.

But the trial never took place. Less than a month before the trial was scheduled to begin, Marri was taken in the middle of the night to a military prison in South Carolina. He was no longer a man accused of a crime. The president had signed an order declaring him an “enemy combatant.” All of the Constitution’s protections had been erased with the stroke of a pen.

Once removed from the criminal justice system,
Marri was deprived of any contact with the outside world, paving the way for a brutal interrogation regime. He was shackled in a fetal position to the floor of a freezing cell, kept from sleeping for days on end, and threatened with violence and death — all in a deliberate attempt to create a sense of hopelessness and despair. Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had come to America.

The interrogations continued for 16 months before Marri was finally allowed to see a lawyer. Recordings from those months of interrogations, meanwhile, were destroyed by the Defense Department.

The New York Times ran an editorial yesterday urging the Supremes to hear Marri’s case, the stakes for which go well beyond the life of Mr. Marri.

…The federal appeals court made clear that its ruling upholding the president’s power to detain enemy combatants applies equally to American citizens. If the ruling stands, presidents would be able to throw out due process, habeas corpus and other basic constitutional and statutory rights for anyone they declared to have terrorist ties. That is an intolerable reading of the law — and one that the Supreme Court should quickly reverse.

Intolerable is exactly the right word. It has been intolerable to have our democracy highjacked by an administration so drunk on its own unchecked executive power that it has crossed a line, the crossing of which, as British historian Andy Worthington put it, “.. cannot be accepted in a nation, like America, committed to basic human rights and the principles of its Constitution.”


Because we will soon have a president who will not repeatedly fill us with shame and dread by imprisoning people without due process.


  • What a disgraceful nightmarish last eight years these Bush/Cheney years have been for the country. Unfortunately the fallout of the “dark age” of fascism continues as the USA struggles with impending disaster economically,not to mention hemorrhaging blood and money in the illegal and immoral Iraq war.
    The Bush’s are leaving us in a hell of a mess and I for one would like to just yell out, Dubya! Get the hell out right now!
    I certainly hope these criminals will be prosecuted and convicted of war crimes, crimes against the constitution, and economic based crimes against the people of the United States and the world.

    But it looks like these Bush/Cheney criminals are taking pains not to end up like Saddam Hussein and the fix might be in already.

    From the Huffington Post;
    ” Bush might decide to issue pre-emptive pardons before he leaves office to government employees who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Some constitutional scholars and human rights groups want the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to investigate possible war crimes.”

  • We haven’t had a terrorist attack since 9-11 and have stopped planned attacks before they could be carried out–including L.A. You can thank President Bush for that.

    Since you are so thrilled about Obama’s approach to terrorism, here’s what his new Attorney General had to say about enemy combatants:

    Unlawful Combatants Are Not POWs [Cliff May]

    That was the view of Eric Holder, Oama’s choice for Attorney General, in a CNN inteview in 2002 (as recalled by the WSJ today):

    “One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located; under the Geneva Convention that you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people.

    “It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war. If, for instance, Mohamed Atta had survived the attack on the World Trade Center, would we now be calling him a prisoner of war? I think not. Should Zacarias Moussaoui be called a prisoner of war? Again, I think not.”

    In recent years, this has been the argument put forward by such conservatives as Andy McCarthy and me (most recently in this Commentary review of Jane Mayer’s book blasting the current administration for betraying American values by taking such views).

    Let’s hope Holder sticks to his guns on this.

    Oh, but coddling terrorists is more important if you can score political points and are too stupid to know that war demands tactics that aren’t always pretty.

    As someone else put it – “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said ‘thank you,’ and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post.”

    Bush’s approach to dealing with enemy terrorists had to break new ground, and I would rather him err on the side of protecting American citizens–and, based upon the law as it has been, his authorized approaches have been legal.

    Please write Pres. Bush a thank you note rather than work to get us all killed.

  • BTW, who’s that hippie SOB walking on the flag in your picture above? (I bet that he’s not here legally.) And, to think that Obama is good friends with Bill Ayers, who had literally and proudly trampled on our flag.

  • Woody’s haste to put our Constitution through the shredder is, of course, no surprise. He has displayed a truly appalling disdain for American ideals for quite some time.

    Al Qaeda owe people like him a debt of gratitude for helping to destroy the country from within, in a way that the terrorists would never be able to do on their own.

  • Hey, Kevin, what did progressive FDR do with Japanese citizens? At least we know that the people at Guantánamo were involved in attacking the U.S.

    We survived FDR (and, are still trying to pay off his social security scheme.)

  • William Ayers and Bernardine Doern were cult heroes of their day in the same spirit as those of Bonnie and Clyde. The fought the law and the won, but the people ,the majority of their respective days idolized them equally. i know I did. If there was a PayPal donation site for the Weather Underground you can be sure they wouldn’t lack for funding. Woody and his Conservative cronies obviously weren’t lucid and viable when despotic bastards like Gens. Curtis LeMay and Wesmoreland, and Sec of defense Robert McNamara had the ear of the President and deeply swayed Johnson’s decisions regarding the “first idiotic War of this Century”. There have been subsequent controlling entities. Unfortunately patriots like William and Bernardine are no longer among us. Hopefully the Obama Revolution can revive the sad and lazy folk that we are.

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