Building a House You Can’t Live in

U.S. to Allow Key Detainees to Request Lawyers 14 Terrorism Suspects Given Legal Forms at Guantanamo

By Josh White and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 28, 2007; A01
Fourteen “high-value” terrorism suspects who were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from secret CIA prisons last year have been formally offered the right to request lawyers, a move that could allow them to join other detainees in challenging their status as enemy combatants in a U.S. appellate court.
The move, confirmed by Defense Department officials, will allow the suspects their first contact with anyone other than their captors and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross since they were taken into custody.
The prisoners, who include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, have not had access to lawyers during their year at Guantanamo Bay or while they were held, for varying lengths of time, at the secret CIA sites abroad. They were entitled to military “personal representatives” to assist them during the administrative process that determined whether they are enemy combatants.
My sense of this is we are not yet done with the Supreme Court.
Allowing detainees access to lawyers is a full-frontal admission that this administration has no leg to stand on legally with what it has done over the past five years. Up to now, it’s pretty much given the finger to anyone who complained, but they have to do something with these guys and every time they go to court they lose.
Now, the days dwindle down to a precious few and Bush-Cheney are terrified of a new president taking over this unsolved mess. International as well as American laws have been broken. Foreign governments are at risk. The International Court is not out of the game.
All the co-conspirators are leaving government and the circle of light on a darkened stage is growing smaller and smaller. Room enough for Bush, Cheney and David Addington, but hardly anyone else. Rummy is off to Hoover his way through Stanford. Wolfowitz is a ‘visiting scholar’ at the American Enterprise Institute, the only place that would have him. Rove, Miers and Gonzales are under whatever corner of whatever carpet they could find to shelter them.
  • Colin Powell is gone at State,
  • George Tenet at CIA,
  • Ann Veneman at Agriculture,
  • Rod Paige at Education,
  • Spencer Abraham at Energy–all of them Cabinet positions and the circle of those left on stage gets smaller.
  • John Bolton is gone from the United Nations;
  • Francis Harvey, Secretary of the Army;
  • Monica Goodling and Peter McNulty, Kyle Sampson and Wan J. Kim over at the Department of Justice;
  • Sara Taylor, WH Political Director;
  • Dan Bartlett, WH Counselor;
  • Peter Pace, Chairman Joint Chiefs;
  • Rob Portman, WH Budget Director;
  • William Mercer, Acting Assoc. AG;
  • Jim NIcholson at Veterans Affairs, the list goes on and the circle of light becomes ever smaller.

A little-known truth of the Constitution is that does not disallow officers of government, including presidents and vice-presidents to be impeached after they have left office for high crimes and misdemeanors. Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have lots of tidying up to do before January of 2009.

So many of the impeachable and Internationally indictable crimes have to do with these inconvenient ‘enemy combatants’ that those left hugging one another in that small circle of light left on the darkened stage of this administration must be desperate to begin the undoing before others undo it in a fully lighted theater.

U.S. officials have argued in court papers against granting lawyers access to the high-value detainees without special security rules, fearing that attorney-client conversations could reveal classified elements of the CIA’s secret detention program and its controversial interrogation tactics.

Looking through the whitewash of that artful dodging, officials from the president on down are scared to death that the full story of abu Ghraib, the extraordinary renditions and torture methods in general will come into the full and blinding light of world opinion.

“It was the intent and the plan all along that they would have a right to counsel,” said a senior intelligence official, who insisted on anonymity because many details of the detention program remain classified. The official said the concerns about protecting sensitive government information apply equally to the 14 men and the approximately 325 other detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Which is why that intent and plan had to be fought through courts, appellate courts and finally the Supreme Court by an administration dragged kicking and screaming toward that faint light under the door called justice. On the other side of that door, everyone with an interest in justice had already left. The boss-man, an incompetent by the name of Alberto Gonzales left an odor in the building that will take generations to disperse.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”–William Shakespeare

The tangle of this Bush-Cheney web will only be undone and smoothed back to the founding principles of this extraordinary experiment in democracy called the United States of America if the people insist on it. We are an experiment. We are not yet finished with ourselves as a concept of governance.

The spotlight is upon us and growing ever smaller.

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