Chutzpah : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread Feb 19, 02

Foreign Nationals Held in Cuba Sue


By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Foreign nationals captured in Afghanistan (news - web sites) and held in Cuba sued members of the Bush administration and the military Tuesday, saying they are entitled to the same legal rights as American Taliban John Walker Lindh.

In contrast to Lindh, who has a lawyer, has been charged and is being tried in federal court, Britons Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal and Australian David Hicks are being unlawfully held "incommunicado," lawyers for their families said.

"We are asking that British citizens be treated with as much respect as Americans," said a lawyer for Rasul and Iqbal's families, Clive Stafford Smith.

The suit "tests the power of the federal government and the president of the United States to hold whomever he chooses simply because he does not like them," added William Goodman, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which cosigned the petition in U.S. District Court.

President Bush (news - web sites) and his administration in November ordered the detainees held and not accorded protections as prisoners of war because they are among the most dangerous Taliban and al-Qaida fighters captured during the U.S.-led battle in Afghanistan.

Hicks, 26, allegedly threatened to kill an American upon his arrival at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. officials said.

The three prisoners named in the complaint are being held indefinitely with some 300 others.

No treaty or U.S. law grants prisoners such as those at Camp X-Ray the right to a lawyer. That would change if they were charged with a crime. Prisoners of war also merit legal protections not available to the Guantanamo detainees.

The Nov. 13 executive order violates the Constitution's guarantee of due process, to which any foreign nationals are entitled, according to the complaint. Among other things, it accuses Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert and Col. Terry Carrico of withholding the right to an attorney from the prisoners.

Lehnert is commander of the task force running the detention operation, and Carrico is commandant of Camp X-Ray.

The petition lists numerous efforts by the three men's families to contact them, which were "either rebuffed or ignored" by U.S. officials. The men, meanwhile, had been allowed to write letters to their families, screened by U.S. officials, in which they ask for lawyers.

Their attorney said Tuesday that the situation could lead to the men's being denied representation even as they appear before a military tribunal with authority to carry out the death penalty.

"I suspect that we're going to find with these guys is that they didn't commit any offense against the U.S. at all," Smith said.

-- (, February 19, 2002


The tongue-in-cheek definition of chutzpah used to be a kid who murdered his parents and then begged for mercy from the court because he was an orphan. Then came the Menendez brothers.

-- (, February 20, 2002.

Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty"?

-- (bush@fascist.tyrant), February 20, 2002.

They are not criminals. They are foreign brigands who committed and/or supported those who committed undeclared acts of war against US civilians. If they were members of a national army who attacked us after declaring war, then they would be POWs. As captured outlaws, they are "detainees". They have no civil rights.

If they want equality with Jihad Johnny, let's give it to them--- "detain" Walker-Lindh at Gitmo too.

-- (, February 20, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ