Monday, April 02, 2007

Totally Unacceptable

That's how I feel about shit like this. David Hicks, one of the detainees at Gitmo accused of being an "enemy combatant" and held for five years without charges, has been given a plea deal in which he will serve only nine more months in prison, and that in Australia.

But here's the part that pisses me off:

The deal included a statement by Mr. Hicks that he “has never been illegally treated” while a captive, despite claims of beatings he had made in the past. It also included a promise not to pursue suits over the treatment he received while in detention and “not to communicate in any way with the media” for a year.

Critics said those requirements were a continuation of what they say has been a pattern of illegal detention policies. “It is a modern cutting out of his tongue,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal advocacy group, based in New York, that is coordinating the representation of detainees in many suits challenging Guantánamo detention.

Mr. Ratner and other critics said the provisions requiring Mr. Hicks’s silence and the recanting of his accusations of abuse raised questions of whether officials would use their extensive prosecutorial powers in the military commission process to muffle the public debate about detention policies.
The government absolutely should not be allowed to put provisions like this into plea deals. Deals like this essentially give the government carte blanche to mistreat prisoners by using the power over a prisoner's life and limb to silence him or her. How can we expect laws regarding the treatment of prisoners as well as the rules outlined in the Geneva Conventions to be followed when the government can put prisoners in the position of spending the rest of their lives in prison if they don't keep their mouths shut about mistreatment?

No legal rights are enforceable if the government can use its power to punish anyone who asserts those rights. This is no different than if the police were allowed to beat the shit out of suspects who asserted their Miranda right to have a lawyer present during questioning. If that were true, the right would have no meaning.

Bullshit. Utter bullshit.


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