Froomkin [Miami]: The American Gulag

Michael Froomkin, University of Miami School of Law:

"The US holds maybe hundreds of non-citizens, all captured abroad (we are told), incarcerated in Guantanamo and in other secret prisons around the world. The Bush administration plans to hold them up to forever.

Of course, there is a difference between the Soviet Gulag, which was aimed at saboteurs, dissidents, or people who somehow got on the wrong end of officialdom, and the US Gulag, which is we are told aimed merely at the foreign version of the same.

Whether the creation of a secret archipelago of prisons and coercive questioning facilities will inevitably fail to be deployed against US citizens is a question that one is not permitted to ask in public, as it is too far outside the permitted consensus. So put that issue aside.

Ask instead whether from a moral, political, or even legal point of view, the fact that only foreigners are incarcerated for life without trial (or indeed any rights, it appears), at the complete and unconstrained pleasure of the super-imperial presidency, gives us much in the way of bragging rights over the former Soviet Union.

What’s that? Our gulag is much smaller? And our policy this week is not to torture people, the last two years notwithstanding? And that nice Mr. Bush (with Justice Thomas’s endorsement, to his and the Court’s eternal shame) promises that all the people being held really deserve it, so who needs complications like a trial?

Well, that’s alright then!" [January 2, 2005; Discourse.net has the post]

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