In 2002, the Administration was telling the public that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay were the “worst of the worst” and that federal courts had to be barred from access because we could not risk a single detainee being independently reviewed, let alone released. Critics cited violations of international and domestic law but the administration assured the public that these detainees were killers and terrorists. Now, it turns out that the Administration was warned by a CIA analyst that one-third of those detainees were innocent. If anything, he was too conservative. Over fifty percent were later found not to be enemy combatants. The analyst was told that, while he had completed interviews and review of each case, the President had determined that they were all guilty and therefore they were.
The President appears to have made clear that these detainees were just another “mission accomplished” and, regardless of all evidence to the contrary, they would remain enemy combatants.
A new book by Jane Mayer entitled “The Dark Side,” quotes Cheney staff director David Addington as saying “There will be no review. The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.” Addington is repeatedly mentioned in some of the worst decisions of the Administration on international and domestic violations – including torture.
What is remarkable is that the analyst not only issued a detailed report but his assessment was supported by the view of Major Gen. Michael Dunlavey, who estimated that half were innocent. A later academic study found that 55 percent were innocent.
Once again, despite reports that as many as half of the detainees were innocent, the Congress, including the Democrats, passed laws barring access to the courts and refused any meaningful investigation.
For all those professors who (while mysteriously silent now) steadfastly defended the right of the President to create his own legal system and set his own standards, this is consequence of abandoning legal principle. Ultimately, it did not matter that we were holding hundreds of innocent people in abusive conditions for years: The President had made up his mind and that was enough.
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