Thursday, June 17, 2010

State of the Nation


"Forced to investigate conditions in the US, and to enlist the help of defense lawyers there in establishing otherwise unreported data, extraditees have come to understand that practice after practice is accepted in America which, in Europe, could risk the prohibition of a trial, or subsequently cause its nullification, or bring an end to conditions of imprisonment it stipulated. Within a system of criminal justice that for all of us, from a lifetime of watching procedural dramas, seems more familiar than our own, there are profoundly disturbing features which do not accord with the assumptions we continue to maintain, despite the actions of the previous administration, about the constitution of the United States." - Gareth Peirce
The quote is from an essay in the London Review of Books (13 May 2010) on the question of allowing suspected terrorists to be extradited to the US from the European Community. The way the US legal system deals with suspected terrorists violates the European Convention. It's clear that America's use of absolute isolation, which consistently makes prisoners vegetative or insane, violates the US constitution's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. And this isn't the only violation. The real scandal here is the failure of the Obama administration to repudiate and correct any of this. On this issue, we're still in the Bush/Cheney era. Nothing has really changed.

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