Many readers of this blog will be familiar with this notorious affair. But be sure to read the entire transcript of the judge's conversation with the government attorney, Kristina Wolfe (note that you can open the transcript in pdf format, see upper left section of the page.) Print it out, and if you are a teacher, assign it to your class and have your students read the entire thing. There is a whole education here about what the U.S. Constitution requires when somebody is accused of a crime. And, in reference to the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings, there is a lesson about the kind of "judicial temperament" that is appropriate when the government has been holding a prisoner for seven years despite major indications that they are not guilty--and is now trying to pull rabbits out of hats in order to keep him locked up.
Sadly, the Obama administration has tried to defend and uphold nearly every unconstitutional act committed by the Bush administration, for reasons that can only range from political expediency to political cowardice. And what will the Obama Justice Department do if the judge rules that Jawad must be set free? Read this segment from the Times story:
Jonathan Hafetz, Mr. Jawad’s lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said Judge Huvelle’s comments were an indication that judges were growing uneasy about many of the government’s claims.
“It reflects the pent-up frustration among judges who have seen first hand the government’s lack of evidence,” Mr. Hafetz said.Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Justice Department, did not respond to that assertion. But he said, “We are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security.”
Even if a judge orders it? And by the way, how is releasing a man who is innocent in the eyes of the law a threat to national security? Oh, yes, this is the adminstration that is still considering a program of "preventive detention" of terrorist suspects. We are a nation of laws, until, that is, the law decrees something we don't like.
Addendum. Bob Herbert provided a lot of the background to the case in an earlier column. Since that column was written, the government has belatedly agreed that Jawad's statements during torture cannot be used in the habeas corpus proceeding (after maintaining just the opposite for many months.) As the judge herself put it, the government's case is now “riddled with holes.”