January 2, 2005

I SUPPOSE I COULD BE WRONG, but this seems dodgy to me:

Administration officials are preparing long-range plans for indefinitely imprisoning suspected terrorists whom they do not want to set free or turn over to courts in the United States or other countries, according to intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials.

The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime detentions, including for hundreds of people now in military and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts. The outcome of the review, which also involves the State Department, would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations. . . .

One proposal under review is the transfer of large numbers of Afghan, Saudi and Yemeni detainees from the military’s Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center into new U.S.-built prisons in their home countries. The prisons would be operated by those countries, but the State Department, where this idea originated, would ask them to abide by recognized human rights standards and would monitor compliance, the senior administration official said.

Assuming that these people are “unlawful combatants,” they don’t really have any rights under international law that would stand in the way of this sort of scheme. I’m skeptical, however, as to whether these prisons, operated by the Saudis or the Yemenis, will be either secure or humane. (Via TalkLeft).

Joe Gandelman has more thoughts, also negative. I read this as (1) a trial balloon; and (2) a not-so-veiled warning to U.S. courts not to deal too intrusively with the treatment of foreign combatants. But I’m not entirely sure about that.

UPDATE: Sean Hackbarth has a different take.

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