Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Power of Darkness

In an earlier posting ("Guantanamo and Legal Ethics"), I commented on the efforts of a Pentagon official, Charles D. Stimson, to limit the legal representation of the prisoners at Guantamo Bay by attempting to intimidate their lawyers. (I only recently learned that, as a result of the uproar over Stimnson's remarks, he resigned on February 2. And, according to an Associated Press story on the same day, the Bar Association of San Francisco asked the California State Bar to investigate whether Stimson violated legal ethics in his remarks.)

Now, the Bush administration is making a more direct assault on the lawyers, but seeking a court order limiting their access to their clients, both in their meetings with their clients and in their written communications with their clients (which will be read and censored).

This action appears to be the result of the wave of appeals now being filed in the DC Circuit by detainees. So far this year, there have been 14 appeals filed from "Combatant Status Review Tribunals," all of which have been filed since mid-March. There have also been 8 habeas corpus petitions filed, all since the beginning of February.

According to a story in today's New York Times, the filings by the administration include an affidavit from a Navy lawyer at Guantanamo, Cmdr. Patrick M. McCarthy, who alleged that lawyers for the detainees have been providing the detainees with information about events outside of the Guantánamo Bay military base, such as a speech at an Amnesty International conference and information about more recent terrorist attacks. The affidavit states that "Such information threatens the security of the camp, as it could incite violence among the detainees."

Exactly why or how such information could "incite violence" is not explained, but the obvious explanation is that the information gives the detainees hope.

Hope is what leads people to rebel. If you can hope to be free, then you can continue to struggle against your captors. But if you have no hope of ever being free, or ever being allowed to communicate with your family again, and there is no possible life other than eating and sleeping in isolation in a concrete cell, then there is no hope, and perhaps no reason to live.

And that is the goal of the Bush administration. They don't want merely to imprison the bodies of the detainees; they want to crush their spirits, and the way to crush their spirits is to keep them in darkness.