In the last decade, the United States has increasingly become a symbol of hypocrisy as a nation that has violated many international principles that it helped create after 9-11. That record was reinforced this week after the Afghan government (not exactly the paragon of civil liberties) refused to adopt indefinite detention rules pushed by the Obama Administration. Of course, President Obama has continued the indefinite detention of the Bush Administration and the operation of the Guantanamo Bay facility over the objections of civil libertarians. We recently saw the death of a detainee who was found years ago not to be a national security risk and never proven to be guilty of a single crime. Yet, in its effort to create a “new Democracy” in the Afghanistan, the Obama Administration was insisting that it replicate our own indefinite detention rules. In the meantime, a federal court has stayed a prior court order that enjoined the provision on indefinite detention under the Obama Administration’s 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.
A judicial panel ruled that administrative detention runs counter to the country’s laws. Yet the Obama Administration said that unless the country adopted this authoritarian measure, it may not turn over prisoners to Afghan officials. We are still holding more than 600 Afghans.
The death of Adnan Latif, a Yemeni, has become the latest symbol of our abusive policy of detention. As early as 2004, the military determined that he should be released but never told his lawyers until years later. In 2010 a federal court ordered his release. He would never live to see freedom.