U.S.| On the illegality of torture, op-ed

posted on 01.04.2010 by

Editorial from the New York Times: Bush administration officials came up with all kinds of ridiculously offensive rationalizations for torturing prisoners. It’s not torture if you don’t mean it to be. It’s not torture if you don’t nearly kill the victim. It’s not torture if the president says it’s not torture.

It was deeply distressing to watch the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sink to that standard in April when it dismissed a civil case brought by four former Guantánamo detainees never charged with any offense. The court said former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the senior military officers charged in the complaint could not be held responsible for violating the plaintiffs’ rights because at the time of their detention, between 2002 and 2004, it was not “clearly established” that torture was illegal.

The Supreme Court could have corrected that outlandish reading of the Constitution, legal precedent, and domestic and international statutes and treaties. Instead, last month, the justices abdicated their legal and moral duty and declined to review the case.

A denial of certiorari is not a ruling on the merits. But the justices surely understood that their failure to accept the case would further undermine the rule of law. [...]

More here.

U.S.| Attorney General Defends Decision to Use NY Federal Court for 9/11 Trial

posted on 11.19.2009 by

From the New York Times: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday defended his decision to prosecute five men accused as co-conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks in federal court in Manhattan, declaring that while he believes “we are at war,” that the venue was the best place to pursue the case against them. Read more

U.S.| 9/11 and Legal Obstacles: How Do You Defend a Nortorious Terrorist Figure?

posted on 11.14.2009 by

Following the recent announcement by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a civilian Manhattan courthouse, Eric Lichtblau and Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times poses the question, “How do you defend one of the most notorious terrorist figures in history?” From the question of a fair trial to that of capital punishment, to challenges that will ineluctably be made to interrogation methods used on the suspect during his more than six years of detention, the 9/11 trial evinces a host of unparalleled legal obstacles. Read more

U.S.| Key 9/11 Suspects To Be Tried in NY Federal Court

posted on 11.13.2009 by

The Obama Administration has decided to move the trials of the five Guantánamo Bay detainees suspected of plotting the 9/11 attacks from the Guantánamo military commissions to federal courts to face justice. Read more

Thomas Perez new Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division

posted on 10.06.2009 by Lisa

Thomas E. Perez was confirmed on 6 October by the U.S. Senate as the new Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“I am very pleased to welcome Tom Perez back to the Justice Department,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “One of my highest priorities as Attorney General has been to ensure that the Civil Rights Division will again continue to advance the interests of justice and equal protection for all Americans. Tom is an exceptional lawyer and both the Department and the nation will benefit from his leadership and legal expertise.”

More here from the Department of Justice press release.