New Documents Reveal Unlawful Guantánamo Procedures Were Also Applied On American Soil

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

James Freedland, ACLU, (212) 519-1894 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

ACLU

New Documents Reveal Unlawful Guantánamo Procedures Were Also Applied On American Soil

NEW YORK - According
to newly released military documents, the Navy applied lawless
Guantánamo protocols in detention facilities on American soil. The
documents, which include regular emails between brig officers and
others in the chain of command, uncover new details of the detention
and interrogation of two U.S. citizens and a legal resident - Yaser
Hamdi, Jose Padilla and Ali al-Marri - at naval brigs in Virginia and
South Carolina.

The documents were obtained under
the Freedom of Information Act by the Allard K. Lowenstein
International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School and the American
Civil Liberties Union.

"Guantánamo was designed as a
law-free zone, a place where the government could do whatever it wanted
without having to worry about whether it was legal," said Jonathan
Freiman, an attorney with the Lowenstein Clinic at Yale. "It didn't
take long for that sort of lawlessness to be brought home to our own
country. Who knows how much further America would have gone if the
Supreme Court hadn't stepped in to stop incommunicado detentions in
2004?"

According to the documents, Navy
officers doubted the wisdom of applying Guantánamo rules on American
soil. In particular, officers expressed grave concern over the effects
of the solitary confinement imposed upon the three men detained at the
brigs, a practice that was considered to be even more extreme than the
isolation imposed at Guantánamo. Navy officers also exhibited
frustration with the Defense Department's unwillingness to provide the
detainees with access to legal counsel or any information about their
fates. 

"The application of Guantánamo
protocols on U.S. soil is incredibly significant and indicates how far
the administration has gone in terms of suspending the law," said
Jonathan Hafetz, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security
Project. "The Bush administration has long argued that detainees held
in Guantánamo are not entitled to any constitutional protections - an
argument the Supreme Court has recently rejected. But this is not even
Guantánamo - we are talking about creating prisons beyond the law right
here in America."

The documents clearly show that the
standard operating procedure developed for Guantánamo Bay governed
every aspect of detentions at the two bases inside the United States.
Though Navy personnel tried several times to improve the harsh
conditions under which Hamdi, Padilla and al-Marri were detained,
senior Defense Department officials repeatedly denied the requests. 

Padilla and al-Marri have reported
being subjected to many of the brutal interrogation techniques used at
Guantánamo Bay that included sleep deprivation, painful stress
positions, prolonged isolation, extreme sensory deprivation, and
threats of violence and death. That regime, it now appears, was the
product of an effort to extend "Guantánamo rules" to prisons inside the
United States.

Although the newly released military
documents include mandatory "weekly updates" on the three men for
certain periods, the weekly updates pertaining to Padilla and al-Marri
for most of 2002-2004 - the period during which the two were being
detained incommunicado and interrogated - were not released, but were
also not reported as withheld or as missing, suggesting the possibility
that Guantánamo-like interrogations were taking place.

Last month, the ACLU urged the U.S.
Supreme Court to review the Bush administration's authority to
indefinitely imprison al-Marri without charge or trial. The ACLU asked
the Court to reverse a federal appeals court decision that gave the
president sweeping power to deprive individuals in the United States,
including American citizens, of their most basic constitutional rights.

The newly released documents are available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/detention/37040res20081006.html

The Guantánamo Standard Operating Procedure is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/detention/37043lgl20030328.html

 

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