Sunday, May 2, 2010

Habeas Torpor

In an earlier blog post I mentioned the plight of K, the son of a Saudi friend of mine who was stopped at the airport on his arrival in San Francisco because his laptop was carrying images of the wars in Chechnya and Palestine. K was arrested that day, and for the past three and a half years has been held in a California prison on the charges of “being likely to commit a terrorist act.” Their main evidence? About a decade ago, he donated the equivalent of $1.90 to a mosque in Palestine, which was later taken over by Hamas. So he has “officially” admitted to sponsoring terrorism.

After years of wrestling in the bureaucratic mud pit, K’s father, Mr. E, finally threw up his hands and said: okay, fine, just send my poor boy back to the Middle East. PLEASE! Just send him back. Get him out of that prison. The government agreed, although it took them a few months to discover that they could not arrange a visa for him. Now that K has been held in an American prison on terrorism charges, no country will take him, thank you very much. You keep your terrorists.

The last option? Habeas corpus. I had to look it up in Wiki because Latin words befuddle me:

“a summons with the force of a court order, addressed to the custodian (e.g. a prison official) demanding that a prisoner be taken before the court, and with proof of authority allowing the court to determine if that custodian has lawful authority to detain the person; if not, the person shall be released from custody.”

Okay, so in other words, put your cards on the table, hoss! Let’s see what you've got! In order to do this, Mr. E has had to go to the 9th Circuit court (which, because of a slight accent, he pronounces “9th Circus court”) and yes, it has taken them 2 months now to “open” the case officially, because the government had to “approve” it first. 

Sounds Guantanamo. Over the past few years, the Supreme Court, circuit and federal appeals courts, and Potus have all asserted the right of habeas corpus for enemy combatants. So can we take K out of his orange jumpsuit now, pull his Quran out of the toilet and let him go? Because they’ve investigated him all over the Middle East and found nothing.

NUH-THING. No summer camps in Pakistan. No unexplained flying lessons. No briefcase with blueprints of Candlestick Park. That’s old school terror. Everyone who knows about this case thinks that K must be much scarier than some Mohammed Atta knock-off: K is a computer geek. Maybe he came here to finish his Masters so he could, I don’t know…disable the federal government with the click of a button?

Guantanamo is a schande but look at some of the nasties they’re holding – like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mr. Honk if You Like War Crimes Against Civilians. Um, tell us again why you need 50 aliases? Actually, his record is so long you have to wonder if he’s not Sheikh Walter Mitty. Meanwhile, K remains in prison on American soil and they can’t come up with more than $1.90? 

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