Innocent? Keep em locked up anyways

This is the kind of story that makes me question humanity:

Even in the context of America’s wretched civil liberties abuses over the last decade, the case of Mohamed Hassan Odaini stands out.  He was 17 years old in 2001 when his father sent him from Yemen to study at a religious university in Raiwand, Pakistan, and when a campus house in which he was staying there was raided by Pakistani authorities in early 2002, he was turned over to the U.S. and shipped to Guantanamo, where he has remained without charges for the last eight years (he’s now 26).  A federal court this month granted his habeas petition for release, finding that the evidence “overwhelmingly supports Odaini’s contention that he is unlawfully detained.”  Worse, the court described the multiple times over the years — beginning in 2002 and occurring as recently as 2009 — when the U.S. Government itself concluded that Odaini was guilty of nothing, was mistakenly detained, and should be released (see here for the court’s description of that history).

Despite that, the Obama administration has refused to release him for the past 16 months, and fought vehemently in this habeas proceeding to keep him imprisoned.  As the court put it, the Obama DOJ argued “vehemently” that there was evidence that Odaini was part of Al Qaeda.  In fact, the Obama administration knew this was false.  This Washington Post article this weekendquotes an “administration official” as saying:  “The bottom line is: We don’t have anything on this kid.”  But after Obama decreed in January that no Yemeni detainees would be released — even completely innocent ones, and even though the Yemeni government wants their innocent prisoners returned — Obama DOJ lawyers basically lied to the court by claiming there was substantial evidence to prove that Odaini was part of Al Qaeda even though they know that is false.  In other words, the Obama administration is knowingly imprisoning a completely innocent human being who has been kept in a cage in an island prison, thousands of miles from his home, for the last 8 years, since he’s 18 years old, despite having done absolutely nothing wrong.

It really is hard to imagine many things worse, more criminal, than imprisoning people for years whom you know are innocent, while fighting in court to keep them imprisoned.  But that’s exactly what the Obama administration is doing.

I don’t really have much to add. I’m honestly horrified by the conduct of our government in this case. It’s one thing to torture and imprison people out of blind rage for 9/11. It’s an entirely higher level of evil to destroy an innocent man’s life as part of a political calculation. In this case Obama doesn’t want the bad press he’ll get from releasing anyone to Yemen, especially someone like Odaini, with plenty of reason to take up arms against America. It’s simply despicable.

One Comment

  1. Ian

    “It’s an entirely higher level of evil to destroy an innocent man’s life as part of a political calculation.”

    Being extremely cynical here: Isn’t that every district attorney’s job (to prosecute if there is a case, not necessarily if there is guilt)? Isn’t that what happens when our justice system uses the death penalty on innocent people?

    I don’t know man, if THIS makes you question humanity, you must have been ignoring a lot of history. The lesson here is this: you can have laws and you can claim people have rights, but who is charged with enforcing those laws and protecting those rights? Its just other humans. Its a fallible system. Idealistic, perhaps even God-like infallible justice doesn’t exist on this earth. “Justice” is inherently arbitrary as long as man is the judge, jury, and executioner.