Monday, October 23, 2006

Civil Rights Watch for 10/23: DOJ appeals Wiretapping case, Allies Keep Gitmo Open, Probe into Gitmo Abuses Begins

Civil Rights Watch for 10/23: DOJ appeals Wiretapping case, Allies Keep Gitmo Open, Probe into Gitmo Abuses Begins

Due to personal commitments, today’s entry is presented with minimal commentary; tomorrow’s entry should resume as normally scheduled.

U.S. govt appeals court's NSA wiretapping decision
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration on Friday appealed a federal judge's ruling this summer that a controversial post-September 11, 2001, domestic spying program was illegal.

The U.S. Justice Department, in documents filed with a federal court in Cincinnati, argued that President George W. Bush had acted within the law in authorizing the surveillance of domestic wiretaps of international telephone calls.

In its appeal, the government stated that the federal judge's ruling "dismantles a tool that already has helped detect and disrupt al Qaeda plots."

It stated that U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's decision directly conflicts with the Supreme Court's direction to "proceed with great caution in resolving challenges in this extraordinarily sensitive context."

Nearly a year ago, media reports revealed the existence of the domestic spying by the National Security Agency.

Civil libertarians, including the ACLU, which brought the suit, have argued the government could gain the same type of intelligence information through warrants.

Judge Taylor ruled in August that NSA's five-year-old surveillance program, implemented as part of the government's war on terrorism, violates the civil rights of Americans because the government does not have to present justification for its monitoring in court and obtain a warrant.

In its appeal, the government argued the surveillance program was narrowly targeted and thus did not violate Americans' constitutional rights, while being an effective tool in stopping potential terrorist attacks.

The expedited appeal called for the government to submit its arguments to the appeals court by Friday, with a response due a month later.

U.S. allies impede Guantanamo releases

Britain and other U.S. allies have demanded closure of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but have also blocked efforts to let some prisoners return home, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

British officials recently rejected a U.S. offer to transfer 10 former British residents from Guantanamo to the United Kingdom, arguing that it would be too expensive to keep them under surveillance, the newspaper said, citing documents made public this month in London.

Britain has also staved off a legal challenge by the relatives of some prisoners who sued to require the British government to seek their release, The Washington Post said.

While all British citizens in Guantanamo were freed starting in 2004, Britain has balked at allowing former legal residents of the country to return, the newspaper said.

Germany and other European allies, which have spoken out against Guantanamo, also have balked at accepting prisoners from the facility, the Post said.

Human rights groups have condemned U.S. practices at Guantanamo, where detainees have been held indefinitely without charge.

Some 335 prisoners have been transferred out of Guantanamo since the prison camp's creation in January 2002 and another 110 of the 440 still at the jail have been declared eligible for transfer or release, the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon has already freed all but a few European citizens from Guantanamo. However, U.S. officials have struggled to persuade Britain, Germany and other allies in Europe to accept prisoners who once had legal residency there, or who are effectively stateless, The Washington Post said.

U.S. Army colonel arrives at Guantanamo to investigate abuse allegations

A U.S. Army colonel arrived at Guantanamo Bay on Wednesday to investigate whether guards at the prison beat detainees, as they allegedly boasted about doing, the spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command said.

Col. Richard Basset will conduct interviews for up to a month at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in southeast Cuba, said Jose Ruiz.

"He's going to interview everyone he thinks he needs to talk to, to be able to establish the facts," Ruiz said from the Southern Command headquarters in Miami, where Basset is based.

Basset has authority to interview any member of the military Joint Task Force that runs the detention center at Guantanamo regardless of their rank, Ruiz said, clarifying an earlier statement he made that the colonel would not be able to interview senior officers.

Basset will submit his findings to the commander of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the detention center.

Posted by crimnos @ 11:38 AM